Global Banking & Finance Review speaks with Johan de Lange Executive Vice President, Enterprise & Africa at Clickatell about the fast growing presence of mobile banking in Africa and other developing nations.
What are the main concerns affecting customers trying to conduct banking in regions of Africa and other developing nations in the world?
We see three main concerns for customers in Africa and developing nations when it comes to banking. Those areas of concern are:
- Access to banking
- Cost for Accessing such services
- Service reliability
How does Clickatell provide services on a customer basis in Africa that differs from your competitors and enhances customer satisfaction?
Clickatell was the first company to identify enterprise grade services as being the key differentiator for top tier banks. Our drive and focus from the start was to ensure the delivery of SMS (Short Messaging Service), USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) and VAS (Value Added Services) to our bank customers with an incredibly high level of quality of service. Furthermore, Clickatell was the first organization in Africa to focus on helping businesses connect, interact and transact with their customers over their mobile device in an imbedded B2B enablement role. In Nigeria, prior to Clickatell, third party services would just white label their platform and continue to collect and process the funds on behalf of the customer, allowing very little transparency and almost no recognition of the individual bank’s own contribution to their transaction volume growth. Clickatell acts as an enabler, connecting banks with transactions and giving them a live, real-time view of how they are performing in the area of VAS. This is a powerful enablement tool as it allows banks to focus on what works and drives their strategies for customer engagements in a much more productive manner.
The Clickatell model also ensures that the bank acts as a partner in the process, as opposed to only a customer. This approach further strengthens the relationship between banks, and us so that Clickatell is work alongside them, as opposed to acting only as a supplier of goods or services to the bank and its customers.
With regards to large financial institutions incorporating the services of Clickatell, is there a benefit to them, over your competition, in this area of the world?
Clickatell’s unique selling proposition and strength lies in its platforms and people. The experience and knowledge gained from working for years in the continent, means Clickatell has real value to add to any Pan African bank wanting to move beyond its own borders. Another distinguishing factor is Clickatell’s ability to provide one single point of integration, which enables access to multiple products in multiple destinations. This is a much more economically viable approach in which to roll out across the African continent, so that one doesn’t need different local suppliers in each market. Lastly, the Clickatell VAS platform with its PINless core service offers a very high availability product to our banks across multiple customer engagement channels from mobile money and banking to ATM and point of sale.
With creating a “mobile wallet” for individuals within Africa (as well as numerous areas in the developing world) does Clickatell have a message, not only for your stakeholders, but for the economic growth and quality of life issues you have helped to provide?
Clickatell does not provide a ‘mobile wallet’ to individuals. Instead we focus on those who do so within local markets. For example, in West Africa we support the institutions that are tasked by the central banks to drive inclusion initiatives via mobile platforms using mobile money and mobile banking products. We believe it is our duty to assist our clients to drive true customer acquisition, as this would is the underlying reason any bank or mobile network operator would want to engage in mobile money. Clickatell prides itself on our ability to assist banks in turning their mobile money and VAS services into true acquisition tools to convert customers into actual account holders at the bank. In this area, we are proud of our success as a mobile transaction services platform in Africa.
Do you have further developments planned over the course of 2014?
We have many new initiatives coming in 2014, but the true focus for the year is on helping our bank customers to model their VAS offerings to their customers in a way as to drive true conversion. By the end of this year we hope to count a high rate of conversion for our banks as part of our success, over and above the revenue we receive for providing these services to our customers.