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Mobile TeleSystems OJSC, said to be the largest mobile phone operator in Russia and the CIS, has announced the launch of a test zone of its UMTS (3G) network in Uzbekistan and technical readiness for commercial launch in late 2008.
 
Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, became the first city in the region where MTS launched its next-generation network. The company plans to cover the entire city and to announce the commercial launch by the end of the year. Additional cities will be launched in 2009, including Samarkand, Bukhara, and Andijan.

Huawei Technologies was selected by MTS to provide 3G equipment, as well as technical support and employee training.

"MTS is the leading mobile operator in Uzbekistan and plays a key role in the development of the country's telecommunications market. With the launch of our 3G network, we will bring the most innovative mobile products and services to our subscribers along with the high quality of customer service," said Mr. Bekhzod Akhmedov, Head of MTS Uzbekistan. "Given the low penetration level of fixed internet connections, we see great prospects for growth by delivering mobile broadband solutions through our 3G network."

Development of UMTS networks is a cornerstone of MTS' strategy to provide mobile broadband in the CIS. As these markets demonstrate relatively low levels of fixed-line penetration and historic underinvestment in infrastructure, MTS views its networks as an ideal vehicle to meet the growing broadband Internet needs of its subscribers through attractive data products and services.

MTS launched its first 3G network in Russia in May 2008 and plans to launch the network in Armenia in early 2009. MTS is currently operating a CDMA-450 network in Ukraine to provide high-speed data access for its clients.

Atos Origin, an international IT services company and InfoGin, a specialist in web-to-mobile content and functionality adaptation solutions, have implemented a web-to-mobile content adaptation solution for Telefónica de España Mobile Business, the largest wireless operator in Spain.

As the prime contractor, Atos Origin was in charge of providing complete project management services and responsible for overall integration of InfoGin's Intelligent Mobile Platform.

"We are very happy with the outcome of this collaboration, it has enabled us to provide end-to-end services to Telefónica's end users and guarantee the highest quality of service requirements," said Miguel Bravo, Telefonica Executive Key Account Manager, Atos Origin. "The partnership builds on Atos Origin's long track record of successful deployment and management of enhanced critical revenue services at Telefónica."

"We are delighted that Telefónica has joined the list of global tier-1 operators in Europe, through its strategic move to provide mobile users with the best real Internet experience," said Eran Wyler, CEO & Founder of InfoGin. "This will inevitably drive a significant increase in user uptake of these new services over the coming years."

In the wake of the Broadband World Forum Europe 2008's immense success, the IEC today announced that the next World Forum will take place in Paris 7-9 September 2009 at the CNIT La Défense in Paris, France, hosted by France Telecom-Orange. France Telecom-Orange Executive Vice President of Group Networks and Information Systems Jean-Philippe Vanot will serve as the Broadband World Forum Europe 2009 Chair and will lead nearly 400 industry leaders to share their insight and perspectives at the event.

"On behalf of France Telecom-Orange and the IEC's group of global carrier members, we're pleased to welcome the entire global broadband industry to Paris for the Broadband World Forum Europe 2009!" commented IEC President John Janowiak. "Together with top solutions providers and equipment manufacturers, industry associations and media, we will continue to ‘Deliver the Promise' of broadband as one industry."

Previous Broadband World Forum Europe service provider host sponsors include BT, Belgacom, China Netcom, Deutsche Telekom AG, France Telecom-Orange, KT, NTT, PCCW, Telecom Italia, Telefónica S.A. and TELUS.

2009 World Forum Chair Jean-Philippe Vanot explains, "It will be very exciting and you have to save the date in Paris because we will address challenges facing both fixed and mobile broadband. Recognizing the real disruption in the mobile area and the ever increasing need for greater bandwidth, now is the time to realize fixed-mobile broadband. It will be a great event!"

A hallmark of the World Forum is 50 visionary keynotes, insightful plenary panels, workshops and sessions complementing a cutting-edge exhibition. The IEC's SOFNET '09 event will be co-located with the Broadband World Forum Europe 2009 in Paris next year.

In 2006, the IEC and the CNIT La Défense received the "Best in Congress" KReA Award recognizing the best professional conference and exhibition that took place in France. The honor was presented by the association of event communication agencies (ANAe).

The Broadband World Forum Europe 2009 planning meeting will take place this 13 November 2008 in Paris.

Ipanema, a leader in application traffic management systems for wide area networks, has announced today that Belgacom will use its Autonomic Networking System to develop a new application-centric offering. The Ipanema element provides Belgacom's customers with real-time visibility and control of what is happening on their Virtual Private Network (VPN). Customers using the Ipanema system will also be able to dynamically manage, accelerate and prioritise traffic to meet their individual business needs.

Rudy Fleerakkers, Belgacom said: "Our service offering is evolving as new pressures are placed on network managers to guarantee the performance of key applications such as Citrix and SAP and sensitive real-time applications such as VoIP.  Businesses are increasingly dependent on networks to underpin their IT infrastructure and, as CRM and ERP applications become more business-critical, the fight for bandwidth becomes greater. The spotlight is now on ICT departments, and network managers are turning to us to give them as much control over their networks as possible.  We're committed to offering the best levels of service to our customers and, with Ipanema, we will be able to help network managers meet the requirements of their end-users, ensuring critical applications do not suffer due to network issues such as congestion at peak times."

Belgacom identified Ipanema's Autonomic Networking System as the best fit to meet the demands of enterprise businesses for WAN control and application performance guarantees. Ipanema's approach offers telcos a scalable carrier class system with a dedicated service delivery framework that transcends their actual IP VPN service.  This enables them to shift from a network SLA model to an application SLA model, opening opportunities for a new generation of high-value services centred around the performance of business-critical applications.

According to research carried out by analyst and consulting firm Ovum, commissioned by Ipanema in June 2008 with large enterprises in North America and Europe revealed that between 65% and 80% of respondents might be willing to pay network service providers more to improve application optimisation. The areas of most interest include:

  • * Improving the quality of service to guarantee performance of business critical applications.
  • * Acceleration technologies to reduce WAN bandwidth and delay constraints for business critical applications.

A new analysis by Juniper Research of the rapidly evolving market for money transfer and remittances via mobile phones forecasts that in excess of 100m users globally will use their mobile phones to make international money transfers by 2013. These cross border mobile money transfers are currently in their infancy, but are expected to gain traction over the next two to three years, especially on migration routes such as Philippines/Middle East and Mexico/USA.

 

The report found that there is a significant opportunity for mobile money transfer service providers and vendors, for both national services between mobile users in a single country and internationally. The study explores how mobile money transfer will transform the ability of the ‘underbanked' population and migrant workers to make remittances, using their mobile phones as mobile wallets.

 

Report author Howard Wilcox explained: "The vast increase in migrant workers globally has fuelled the number of remittances being sent home to friends and families regularly. The mobile phone will become a vital enabler in developing countries because often many more people have phones than have bank accounts. The GSM Association Mobile Money Transfer global initiative emphasises the importance that is attached to this across the mobile industry as a whole."

 

Highlights from the report include:

  • Mobile international transfers are forecast to grow in frequency as users become more accustomed to the process, exceeding one per month by 2013 on average globally.
  • The opportunity for companies providing national and international money transfer services is forecast to exceed $5bn by 2013.
  • The top 3 regions (W. Europe, N. America and Africa & Middle East) will represent over 75% of the global international mobile money transfer gross transaction value by 2013.

 

The report provides six year regional forecasts of mobile money transfers and remittances, providing data on subscriber take-up, transaction sizes and volumes for both national (domestic) and international transactions. Crucially, the report identifies the incremental ARPU opportunity for mobile network operators, arising from these new services. Case studies and interviews with companies pioneering in this market are also featured.

 

Mobile messaging including short message service (SMS), multimedia messaging service (MMS) and mobile instant messaging (IM) are making strong gains in Western Europe, according to new analysis from Frost & Sullivan.

According to F&S, SMS still represents the lion's share of mobile data services revenues in Western Europe in 2007. While MMS has failed to replicate SMS' success, many operators are looking on MMS as a medium for delivering user-created content, advertisements and news, which is likely to spur usage and adoption. Value-added features will be key to driving the uptake of mobile IM services.

The analysis 'From SMS, MMS to Mobile IM- Mobile Messaging Markets Gaining Ground in Western Europe', found that SMS revenues generated approximately E16.42 billion in Western Europe in 2007 and this is forecast to decline to E14.59 billion in 2011, with a negative CAGR of 2.9 per cent from 2007 to 2011.

In 2007, MMS and other data applications generated E7.40 billion and this is a forecast to grow to E24.28 billion in 2011, with a CAGR of 34.5 per cent from 2007 to 2011. Growth over the forecast period will depend on interconnectivity issues being resolved between European operators and the reduction in MMS charges.

Mobile IM is expected to co-exist with SMS and other data applications with some operators stating that their voice and SMS revenues have increased between 4 to 8 per cent after the launch of Mobile IM services.

"Operators that offer mobile IM services will have a headstart in marketing and interconnecting their mobile-centric communities with other cellular networks worldwide and also with the Internet IM communities," notes Frost & Sullivan Programme Manager Luke Thomas. "This is imperative if operators want mobile IM to be as successful as SMS on a global basis."

Integrating mobile IM and presence information to the address book will encourage the adoption of sharing contact lists across varied services and client devices, and this could become a requisite for integrated operators having both fixed and mobile assets.

Although mobile IM will cannibalise other types of messaging, particularly SMS, mobile operators can attain greater revenues from all types of messaging services if they skilfully position each messaging service along with careful pricing strategies.

Despite all these value-added features, some operators have not fully accepted mobile IM due to the maturity of market segments as well as concerns of SMS revenues being cannibalised. Nevertheless, mobile IM has the potential to be the next major growth opportunity for mobile operators.

"Mobile operators should encourage the adoption of mobile IM, enabled with presence information by building on their own mobile IM services," states Thomas. "They should also mobilise existing IM communities in parallel, thereby playing a pivotal role in the dynamic environment surrounding them in the world of convergence, by positioning mobile IM as a smooth evolutionary rather than revolutionary upgrade/user experience to SMS."

Once operators extend the existing SMS and voice bundles to include MMS and mobile IM, increased adoption driving individual usage of mobile IM and MMS will be experienced over the forecast period.

Huawei Technologies has today announced the launch of the industry's 'first' 3G / 2G Software Defined Radio (SDR) Single RAN product. The base station has been developed in close cooperation with technologists from Vodafone who are said to be exploring how to enhance the customer experience in a more cost-effective and energy efficient way.

The product enables mobile operators to seamlessly switch from 2G to 3G or use both simultaneously, with the potential to offer total cost of ownership savings to operators. The development is one of the first products from Huawei and Vodafone's Radio Mobile Innovation Centre based in Madrid, Spain.

Using Huawei's latest Remote Radio Unit, Huawei's Single RAN solution aims to provide greater cost efficiencies for operators in the areas of power consumption, transmission expense, footprint and maintenance costs when compared with traditional BTS solutions.

In either 2G, 3G or mixed mode, the solution is designed to enable operators to make significant CAPEX and OPEX savings because they only need to deploy a single Radio Access Network base station, compared to the costs involved with two independent 2G and 3G networks. Paving the way for technology evolution as well as protecting operators' network investment, Huawei's Single RAN Solution is also capable of seamlessly migrating to LTE.

"Vodafone has played a key role in helping to develop this innovative technology, which aims to deliver greater flexibility in terms of both running and planning increasingly cost effective networks in selected markets," said Andy MacLeod, Global Networks Director of Vodafone. "The ability to switch between different radio access technologies is designed to deliver a range of business benefits such as enabling the more efficient management of network capacity in appropriate markets. This technology also aims to reduce carbon emissions from base stations."

"Huawei is happy to have been able to collaborate closely with Vodafone to achieve this important industry milestone," said Wan Biao, the President of Huawei Wireless Product Line. "Over the course of its strategic partnership with Vodafone, Huawei has proven its significant track-record combining technological expertise with its customer-driven service capability. This strengthens Vodafone's leading market position as well as allowing Huawei to further build on one of the broadest product portfolios in the industry."

Auchan Telecom, a member of Auchan France, has launched with success at the end of August a post-paid offer in France. The project is a continuation of the cooperation between Auchan and Comarch which started in 2006.Within the post-paid project for Auchan, Comarch delivers a full scope of coverage of post-paid functionalities, from rating, billing, invoicing, sub ledger, dunning, payment collection and matching, to customer registration in a point of sale, self care and deposit management.

"We chose Comarch because we felt that their products would enable us to reach our goals, to create a core system solution which would be at the same time flexible and smoothly integrated. The quick launch of this project (6 months between the business specification of the solution and its startup in our first store) proved to us that we were right to build a partnership with Comarch" says Mathieu Abt, IT System Manager in Auchan Telecom.

The major portion of the solution has been performed through reconfiguration of products already implemented in Auchan. The only new product delivered was Comarch Scoring, used for customer credit scoring.

"Cooperation with Auchan gives us a lot of satisfaction and brings collateral benefits. Auchan is very satisfied with our professional services. This project has proven that Comarch is capable of supporting a new line of business only through implementation tasks," says Piotr Piatosa, VP Telecommunications, Comarch SA.

Arriva Scandinavia AB, the leading bus and train operator in Denmark and
NZR announced that it has commenced the roll out of free broadband internet
access services to customers on the Arriva Denmark bus fleet.

Twenty three buses have already been equipped the Multimesh mobile broadband gateway developed by Meshhopper Wireless (member of UK based Something Group), a industry leading innovator, developer and operator of mobile and static
wireless access solutions. Arriva also selected Odyssys, the industry
leading automatic vehicle location solution that is embedded in all the
Multimesh broadband gateways to track and monitor each bus location in
real time via the centralized monitoring system that has been developed for
real time passenger transport information use. Arriva is largest bus operator
in Denmark, carrying more than 250 million passengers every year

"We are continually seeking new ways to improve the quality of bus travel
in Denmark," said Johnny Hansen, Managing Director of Arriva Scandinavia. "We
believe that the introduction of broadband services on these two bus lines in
Copenhagen today will enhance the passenger experience and provide a useful
and productive way for our customers to spend their journey time. If more
people decide to take the bus and leave their cars at home we can make a
serious contribution to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions," said
Johnny Hansen, CEO of Arriva Scandinavia.

The Multimesh gateway provides easy to use Wi-Fi Broadband Internet
access on each bus by creating a link between the bus and the 3G HSPA (High
Speed Packet Access) cellular broadband network provided by 3. In
addition, Multimesh offers Ethernet connectivity for in-vehicle systems
such as vehicle location, CCTV and ticketing. Free internet access is
provided by NZR with their Top-Portal product, so ensuring that users can be
online quickly, easily and free of charge.

"We are pleased that Arriva and NZR chose to work with our design and
development team to provide a solution that met the needs of Arriva and its
customers. As a pioneer in next generation networks, we were able to overcome
hurdles of integration and scalability, which placed the Multimesh
solution in the driving seat against other offerings in the market," said
Nigel Wesley, CEO of Meshhopper.

Arriva Scandinavia awarded the contract for in-bus broadband to Network
Zone Relations (NZR), Meshhopper`s representative in the region and a
specialist in wireless communication systems. "Arriva's roll-out of Wi-Fi for
bus passengers is a clear indication of the importance broadband access has
in today's bus industry," said Louis Preben Nezer, CEO of NZR. "Our winning
proposal included free Wi-Fi hotspots supported by revenue-generating
advertising; looking to the future, buses with broadband connections will
also be able to serve streaming media and other forms of passenger
information and entertainment material. MultiMesh is the gateway for this
type of dynamic content and we look forward to working with Meshhopper
Wireless on similar projects throughout the EU."

According to a new report from Informa Telecoms & Media "Mobile Broadband Access at Home: The Business Case for Femtocells, UMA and IMS/VCC Dual Mode Solutions", mobile traffic generated in the home environment was estimated at 40% in 2007. By 2013 it is expected to reach 58%, and the Analyst firm expects Femtocells deployment to help operators offload up to 8% of total mobile traffic to fixed networks via end-user broadband lines.

The report found that mobile voice minutes of use (MoU) in the home environment will approach 42% of total mobile voice traffic by the end of 2008. As the price gap between fixed and mobile calls narrows mobile voice usage at home will gradually increase to reach 49% by 2013. The office environment will come in second position with a 30% market share, while only 9% of calls will be initiated on the move - when walking, driving, or on the train or bus - and the remaining 21% of calls will be generated from other public environments.

Mobile data usage is also expected to increase over the coming years, thanks to the aggressive flat-rate data-plans pushed by mobile operators, the rollout of mobile broadband networks and most importantly the advances in mobile terminal software. In particular, advanced user interfaces are leading to the proliferation of new type of smartphones and mobile internet devices, including Apple's iPhone and Google's G1.

2007 was a watershed year for operators in terms of their strategy regarding the development of new non-voice services for their customers. "While mobile operators continue to develop their own services and strategies around applications such as music, games, TV and video, there was a realisation during 2007 that a far greater opportunity exists in providing unrestricted broadband access to the Internet" said Malik Saadi, Principal Analyst at Informa and lead author of the report.

"In the same way that voice traffic has moved from old fixed line telephony service PSTN to mobile, there is reason to believe that a significant percentage of Internet traffic generation will move away from fixed personal computers to mobile devices including mobile handsets, mobile Internet devices (MIDs) and connected notebooks" he continued.

These strategies are starting to pay off with the leading mobile operators seeing data revenues surpassing 40% growth in 1H 2008 compared to the same period last year. Australia's Telstra for example announced its non-SMS data revenues have jumped 84% to Aus $360 million in 1H08 from Aus $196 million recorded for the same period last year. Verizon Wireless recorded 49% year on year data revenue growth in 1Q08 and AT&T 57%. At the same time mobile data traffic is surging with operators now recording growth ranging from 120% to 250% over their networks. However, Informa Telecoms & Media has estimated that annual revenues generated by 1 PetaByte of data traffic will decrease by a factor of 4.9 by 2012 to reach US$125 million - down from US$612 million in 2008.

In 2008, the home environment will already be responsible for more than 43% of total mobile data traffic but this traffic is expected to predominate with an overwhelming 60% by 2013. The growth will be driven by users increasingly initiating longer and richer data sessions in the relaxed environment of their home, through browsing the internet, watching longer and richer video clips, downloading music and video content, exchanging pictures, or using VoIP and on-line chatting.

"This does not mean that mobile broadband services will fully substitute fixed broadband, but users will prefer to keep some applications on their mobile or portable devices since these offer greater privacy" said Malik Saadi.

In order to cope with the explosive mobile data traffic growth, operators have invested heavily in offering better 3.5G+ coverage in busy urban areas. However, these areas are also data-hungry hotzones, where the majority of smartphone and connected notebook users reside, so this will eventually result in overloaded networks and low bandwidth per user. In addition, as the 3G/3.5G+ signal travels away from the base-station or penetrates thick concrete walls in residential or business environments, the received signal strength deteriorates considerably, resulting in a significant drop of bandwidth in inbuilding environments, which could in turn affect the overall user experience.

Mobile operators have a vested interest in ensuring that call connection, call quality, and mobile broadband capabilities are as high as possible in the home environment. Mobile Broadband Access at Home clearly shows that, if implemented properly, mobile access at home (MAH) solutions including femtocells, UMA/dual-mode, VCC/dual-mode, and alternative technologies have the potential to help mobile operators offload a substantial part of mobile traffic to the subscriber fixed line. This could potentially lead to significant savings by relaxing network capacity upgrade requirements while enabling considerable improvement in both coverage and capacity of mobile broadband access in the home environment.

7 layers upgraded its Irvine test and service center with HSUPA test capabilities from Rohde & Schwarz. 7 layers operates independent laboratories for wireless technologies, accredited in accordance to ISO 17025. By adding these new services to their already extensive test capabilities for the mobile industry, it will become the first independent laboratory in North America that can run the required HSUPA test cases locally.

HSUPA (High Speed Uplink Packet Access) is a 3G mobile telephony protocol belonging to the HSPA family. This advanced technology facilitates more creative applications demanding high data throughput - for example - uploading multimedia data to the Internet and person-to-person gaming.

"2008 has seen a large increase in the number of HSUPA available devices and we expect this trend to continue, especially since more and more networks are now able to support the HSUPA technology", says David Bissonette, Vice President Business Development of 7 layers Inc. "Extending our laboratory capabilities with HSUPA services is a logical development regarding the way the market is taking to this new technology."

"In order to make 7 layers Inc. capable to offer these new services we will upgrade their existing Rohde & Schwarz test equipment, the R&S CRTU-W's, R&S TS8950W, and R&S CRTU-RRM system", says Michael Gieselman, US Western Region Sales Manager from Rohde & Schwarz. "We expect all test systems to be fully functional in Irvine by End of August."

The 7 layers group has already gained experience with HSUPA testing and certification via their laboratory in Germany. By offering HSUPA services now also in the USA, clients can benefit from these experiences and enjoy the convenience of local service at the same time.

The mobile payment market is still in the process of sorting which particular schemes are most appropriate to different regions and requirements.  But it is undoubtedly set to expand says Howard Wilcox

User demand for convenient and intelligent ways in which to make payments for goods and services using a mobile phone is creating exciting opportunities for those organisations that are part of the mobile payment ecosystem. The ecosystem includes mobile operators, banks and credit card companies, retail merchants and transport operators, handset manufacturers (and their suppliers), and a whole range of new software and system vendors and service providers entrants eager to put their innovative mobile payment solutions into the hands of mobile phone users

The definition of a mobile payment is often open to interpretation and can differ from source to source.    In a report published this month on Mobile Money Transfer & Remittances, Juniper Research defined a mobile payment as “payment for goods or services with a mobile device such as a phone, PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), or other such device.”  As is the case with other, older, payment schemes like cash, the current mobile payment market does not have a single, definitive, payment method and there is substantial variation between what particular scheme is adopted from region to region. Mobile payment schemes vary from the remote methods, such as PRSMS (Premium Rate SMS) schemes for paying for digital content dominating in Europe, to the physical, whereby, in regions such as the Far East and China, users take their mobile phone to the physical storefront to pay for goods via contactless credit/debit card schemes. 

There are many different and often competing categories of mobile payments currently available.  Juniper Research has taken the approach of segmenting the mobile payments market into three areas:
• Digital and Physical Goods:
Digital goods and services are defined as goods and services that are delivered to a mobile device.  Examples include music (ringtones), tickets, infotainment and games, with prices typically between a few cents and $20.
Physical goods and services include almost any consumer items from clothing to electronics equipment to books and CDs.  Essentially this is the mobile equivalent of regular ecommerce online purchases of similar items from a desktop or laptop via a fixed Internet connection. Payment is usually handled via credit card and basket sizes are typically much larger than for digital goods bought remotely via a mobile device.
• Contactless NFC
This segment is defined as a “Wave & Pay” transaction where phones equipped with NFC (Near Field Communications) technology are waved in front of a contactless reader in a store or at a purchase point.  These purchases usually replace cash and are often for lower value items such as refreshments, newspapers and magazines but also public transport tickets which are higher value.
• Mobile Money Transfer
This is a person to person money transfer between two mobile phones, which can be redeemed for airtime, cash, or used to pay for bills or goods by the receiving party. This includes both national or domestic transfers between people in a single country and also international transfers typically by migrant workers.

Setting the Scene for Money Transfers
This market has generated a lot of interest from the mobile payment ecosystem recently.  In developing world economies such as Africa and the Indian Sub Continent there is restricted access to financial and payment services. Only a small percentage of the population has a bank account or a credit card. A larger percentage, however, has a mobile phone or access to one. Not only is there more than one mobile phone per two people in the world, but industry participants frequently discuss the “next billion” subscribers which will come largely from developing countries. Globally, the key statistics tell the story:
• Population: 6.6 billion
• Mobile subscribers: 3.6 billion
• Unbanked and underbanked population: more than 2 billion are unbanked and up to a further 3 billion are underbanked
• ATM machines: 1.5 million
• Bank branches: 0.5 million
The reality is that far more people in countries that are underbanked will have used a mobile phone than will have used an ATM or visited a bank branch. The reach or coverage of the mobile company compared with banks is important: using Ghana as an example, 1 in 20 have a bank account, whereas nearly 1 in 3 people have a mobile. Mobile transactions also cost far less to deliver than either servicing customers at a bank branch or installing ATMs. Therefore, there is significant opportunity to create profitable services to handle even small money transfers and payments, and for mobile network operators to derive additional and much sought after ARPU from handling transactions. Mobile money transfers can extend remittance services to millions of underbanked people in developing countries both in urban and rural areas.

However, a sizeable number of people in developed nations also either do not have a bank account or are underbanked - that is they may only use basic banking functions (sometimes via retail stores), they typically live in a cash-based economy, and use cheque cashing agencies and payday loans. In the USA, for example, recent estimates by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CSFI) place the underbanked (including unbanked) population at 40 million households (106 million individuals) or around 30 per cent of the whole population. The CSFI’s recent study highlighted the following bank account profiles of this market segment:

The second key area is international money transfers. The vast increase in migrant workers globally has fuelled the number of remittances being sent home to families regularly. The World Bank recently reported that the top three recipients of migrant remittances in 2007 were India ($27 billion), China ($25.7 billion), Mexico ($25 billion).  The United States was also the top immigration country in 2005, with 38.4 million immigrants, followed by the Russian Federation (12.1 million), and Germany (10.1 million). The World Bank also reported that recorded remittances to developing countries were estimated to reach $240 billion in 2007. Officially recorded remittance flows reached $337 billion in 2007, but The World Bank stated that the unrecorded flows of money will significantly increase this number. Mobile money transfers enable migrant workers to send money home at lower transaction costs than traditional money transfer services, and enable friends and family at home without bank accounts to access the money.

There is a growing number of (often but not always) new and start-up players providing such money transfer services via mobile phones. There are at least 50 services, pilots and trials around the world, many in the Africa and Middle East region, confirming the potential of this exciting development. In the recent report Juniper found there is enormous potential for those vendors that are part of the mobile money transfer ecosystem.  Companies such as Fundamo, Utiba and Trivnet have seen the opportunity, whilst financial services players such as MasterCard and Visa, and traditional money transfer players like Western Union are now addressing mobile money transfer.  An ever-growing number of service providers such as Vodafone, MTN and Obopay are addressing the opportunity to provide services.
In the new report, Juniper Research investigates the current state of the emerging mobile money transfers market and provides market projections for subscriber take-up, transaction sizes and volumes for both national (domestic) and international transactions up until 2013.  The total incremental arpu opportunity for service providers for both national and international mobile money transfers combined, based on the estimated commission levels that they will be able to charge, is in excess of $5 billion in 2013 globally.

The top 3 regions (W. Europe, Africa and Middle East and Far East and China) will represent over 60 per cent of the global mobile money transfers gross transaction value by 2013. New services and trials are being announced almost every day.  Judging from the response from users so far to services like M-PESA and SmartMoney, prospects for these services are excellent, both in developing and developed countries.  For many people it has been costly and/or difficult for them to transfer money via existing services even to friends and family: using mobile phones solves the problem.

Howard Wilcox is Senior Analyst – Juniper Research

    

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