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January 2016

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     Source: Techloy.com

    There are three major business models in which a mobile money deployment can operate: 

    1. MNO-Led: (Most Common) The mobile network operator acts as the acquirer/issuer and hence owns the wallet and the customer. This model places the bulk of the regulatory responsibility on the MNO.
      1. However, mobile operators will usually be required to have a trust bank partner that is a traditional banking institution to hold the trust account.
      2. This is also distinct from mobile banking services whereby a bank simply creates a mobile channel to a traditional bank account; therefore the wallet has to be a separate store of value from a bank account for it to be mobile money.
    2. Bank-Led: (For example in Nigeria and India) Here, the wallet is held by the bank and the mobile operator may only come in as a channel partner to process transactions through USSD, SMS or GPRS. The banks will then access their consumers through a network of agents similar to the mobile network-led model. Bulk of regulatory requirements will be on the bank in this case.
    3. Independent Model: (For example Zoona and MobiKash) – Here, a company that is neither a bank nor an mobile operator, will have its own wallet platform, a trust account at a bank and with the mobile operator as a channel for accessing the wallet, usually USSD. Such companies will often be mobile operator agnostic, with their USSD code being accessible from more than one mobile operator partner.

    The success of the mobile operator led model, especially in East African countries, is well demonstrated and it is thought that they succeeded for the following reasons:

    1. The telecom company had already acquired large and loyal consumer bases; it was easiest for them to cross-sell the mobile wallet to their captive audiences. Telecoms companies easily had larger customer bases in these parts of the world where banking penetration was lower and in some cases had up to and over 100 per cent penetration on the population for GSM products.
    2. Mobile operators already had a country wide, ubiquitous, well branded, committed distribution structure in the form of airtime merchants, both at the retail and wholesale level and so it was easier to convert these merchants to also become mobile money agents.
    3. Telecom companies already had refined strengths in communicating and marketing products to large subscriber bases and had successfully introduced data and VAS products in the past, so consumers were used to the idea of adopting innovative and new products from their preferred telecom company.

    Source-mPayConnect

    In Nigeria, as in India and elsewhere, the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) has authorized two models for mobile money operators:

    • Bank-Led model: This means that mobile money wallets are bank branded and owned and the service is to be initiated by a bank or a consortium of banks. Examples are Access Money powered by Airtel (Access Bank); GTMobileMoney (GT Bank); FirstMonie (First Bank), EazyMoney (Zenith Bank); Ecobank Mobile Money (Ecobank); Stanbic IBTC Mobile Money.
    • Non bank-led model: which is similar to the independent model described earlier and  has players such as Paga (most successful so far) and
    • Super-Agency Model: Whereby any so licensed entity can act as a super agent for other mobile money providers. This is a recent innovation and most prominent deployment is GloXchange by Glo the mobile operator which is already a super agent for FirstMonie, Ecobank Mobile Money and Stanbic IBTC Mobile Money.

    gloworld

    Source: http://www.gloworld.com/ng/mobile-money/glo-xchange/

    a) Challenges

    Despite having a population of over 170 Million people and a mobile phone penetration rate of over 80 per cent and a banking penetration rate of 20 per cent according to KPMGs 2013 report; Mobile money uptake has been very low.

    Early success has been registered such as in the table below. However, of that registered base, subscriber and agent activity levels remain very low.

    Mobile Money Operator

    Regd. Subscriber Base (2015)

    Regd. Agent Base

    Paga

    3.4 Million

    8,800

    Access Money

    3.1 Million

    5,900

    Source: Quartz qz.com, Access Money

    With the bank led deployments, the banks have sometimes had a muddled marketing effort, whereby they have left their clients confused between mobile money and mobile banking. Many in the Nigerian banking sector see more strategic value in pursuing mobile banking and agency banking as they require consumers to open traditional bank accounts. Also, traditionally, the banks have not seen the base of the pyramid as fully addressable market due to high costs of brick and mortar branches vis-à-vis low deposits from this segment, hence the low banking penetration in Nigeria and similar markets.

    Also, by creating a bank-led model, margins have to be split between the bank and mobile network operator partners and given the price sensitivity for mobile money services, it often leaves both parties out of the money.

    b) Opportunities

    With the new super-agent licence the CBN has started issuing, entities, are able to aggregate mobile money wallets and provide network agency services to multiple wallets. This solves the headache of agent fragmentation and agents operating at below the threshold activity level to make the mobile money agency business profitable and worthwhile. GloXchange has already lauched this service in a big way and will remain a player to watch for its future successes.

    Independent mobile money operators such as Paga are free from the constraints and goal incongruence of the traditional banks and have used this focus to make broad strides as seen in the data above.

    c) Conclusion.

    At the end of the day, mobile network operators seem to have shown themselves to be the most capable entities to successfully role out a mobile money service to reach saturation level as they have the financial, logistical, and marketing strengths to do it; not to mention the very strong incentive that comes from creating a lock-in product to increase switching costs for their GSM customers and keep them more loyal. The CBN would do well to allow mobile network operators o directly join the fray and allow open competition with the banks and independent entities and the consumers will be the ones to gain the most from cheaper, more accessible mobile money services. There is a giant market opportunity and need for financial inclusion in Nigeria and we in the mobile money sector are hopeful for such changes.

    January 28, 2016 0 comment
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    A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a globally distributed proxy server network deployed in various data centers.  CDNs are also well-suited to deliver streaming video, audio and IPTV services.

    CDN Architecture

    CDNs have brought about a sea-change in the global delivery pattern of large data files. This is largely owing to its architecture.

    In a CDN, content exists on strategically dispersed servers in the form of multiple copies.  The CDNs pull the customer’s website data from the origin servers alongside caching it on to their own network. These networks consist of multiple servers located where traffic levels are the highest.

    When a webpage is requested, the CDN redirects the request from the server of the originating site to a CDN server that is closest to the user and the cached content is then delivered. The CDN also communicates with the originating server to deliver content that haven’t been previously cached. It is possible for a large CDN to have thousands of servers worldwide, in turn making it possible for the service provider to send the same piece of content to computing devices of multiple requesting clients reliably and efficiently. It works efficiently even in case of limited bandwidth and sudden spikes in demand.

    What-is-content-delivery-network

    Why is CDN required?

    An identical copy of each piece of content is placed on the CDN servers. As soon as the end user requests content, they are intelligently re-routed to the servers of the CDN located closest to them.

    This basically offers two key benefits:

    • Data response time and latency is enhanced.
    • Errors are minimized and download speeds and file integrity are enhanced.
    January 19, 2016 0 comment
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    Network Function Virtualization or NFV technology is a virtual network architecture concept. It was developed in response to the need for virtualization of the network services currently being performed by expensive hardware. A very new technology, NFV aims to transform the way network service providers deploy and deliver network services.

    Why NFV?

    Currently network service providers need to install expensive dedicated hardware including routers, firewalls and load balancers to be able to provide reliable network services. Dedicated hardware requires space and power for running efficiently which in turn demands further investment. NFV technology aims to virtualize the entire network service over the cloud by using virtual machines that dynamically install software across network locations eliminating the need for any kind of hardware altogether.

    NFV addresses various trends shaping the growth and future of telecom service provider networks:

    Flexibility –Seamlessly deploying new services is a priority for telecom operators. The need of the hour today is a relatively more adaptable network, which can be easily installed and provisioned.

    Cost – Ensuring optimal pricing is at the top of any telecom operator’s to-do list. To achieve this, several bigwigs, such as Google are deploying data centers with the help of off-the-shelf merchants.

    Scalability –To adapt rapidly to the changing user demands and providing suitable services to address them, operators must be capable of scaling their network architecture across servers.

    Security – Security has always been a major challenge. Service providers need to manage their network, while at the same time allowing their consumers to run their own virtual space along with firewalls within the network.

    Virtualization in another operator network – In order to meet consumer demands in an optimal fashion, operators require to substantiate their services worldwide using virtualization.

    Benefits of NFV to the trends shaping operators’ growth

    In a nutshell, NFV makes service provisioning and network more flexible. This allows operators to address changing demands, while scaling services rapidly, as per the requirement. These services are delivered on an industry-standard server hardware via software applications, the most significant one of which is security gateways.  Instead of buying an asset, operators can single out the function associated with the asset and use it as a virtual machine on the server.

    Owing to the fact that network functions are integrated in software, they are easily movable to multiple network locations. This eliminates the need of installing new equipment as hard assets. The cost saving factor comes in with the possibility of deploying inexpensive, high-volume server infrastructure with virtual machines on top making it scalable at the same time.

    NFV also eliminates the dependency of network function on its hardware, allowing service providers to have a local presence without any supporting infrastructure.

    How NFV unleashes its power?

    Network Functions Virtualization or NFV came into existence in direct response to operator needs to make operations more efficient by:

    • Reducing the number and variety of hardware equipment required
    • Achieve greater CAPEX efficiency
    • Simplify network operations
    • Leverage new technology for greater OPEX efficiency
    • Greater scalability and up gradation
    • Reduced cost of maintenance
    • Longer hardware network cycles

    In other words, NFV technology is based on offloading the network functions into a software program that can be managed remotely from any location within the network area of the operator and is compatible with standard industry hardware. For instance, with the NFV technology, rather than investing in deploying new hardware equipment across the network for managing a network encryption, it is possible to deploy encryption software on an already existing standardized switch or server in the network.

    The NFV potential

    By reducing dependency on dedicated hardware, NFV allows for increased customization and scalability across the operator network, making it possible to earn additional revenue without the need of significant investment in hardware. Unlike a virtualized network, which virtualizes the entire operator network, NFV only virtualizes the network functions, enabling the operator to still retain control over the network.

    NFV has yet to be come into full practical use, however potentially NVF technology has the capability to abstract any network function present in standardized dedicated network hardware and manage the network function as a software module deployed on any standardized networking platform. What’s more, NFV has the potential to replicate the software module on to any other hardware platform as well making it extremely easy to scale up network operations. With the NFV technology, network operators can simplify operations and make them much more cost efficient by integrating multiple isolated hardware equipments into a single network that is easy to manage and expand.

    While the full value of NFV is yet to be explored, potential benefits of using NFV can be summed up in the following

    • Reduced hardware cost
    • Reduced OPEX with fewer equipment to install and maintain
    • Increased revenue with faster deployment of services to market as hardware dependence is reduced
    • Reduced investment in space and power
    • Greater efficiency of capital investment
    • Enable greater innovation in service offering

    NFV will truly bring in a new wave in network functions as operators realize do away with stand- alone equipment to make use of integrated software applications to run increasingly complex network operations.

    January 14, 2016 0 comment
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    Network monitoring software examines networks for technical problems caused due to either overloaded servers, crashed connections or the users. Real time network monitoring software eases the process of controlling network usage, server availability and capacity.

    Enterprises of all sizes require an IT network to store and manage huge amounts of data. Keeping in mind the challenges associated with this process, deploying real-time network management software becomes imperative.

    The Role of Real-Time Network Monitoring Software

    Network monitoring software helps safeguard the network from any potential damage caused by system errors and faults. It helps to ensure that customers can access the system seamlessly.

    Moreover, deploying such software helps preserve and improve the network’s health. This, in turn, ensures network availability and better performance. Above all, network monitoring software can help building a database of critical information, which can be used to plan for future growth.

    Benefits

    A comprehensive real-time network monitoring system serves as the core of any network management solution. Also, networks can be effectively managed only if reliable data pertaining to network usage, state and performance is available. Combining powerful monitoring tools with network management, real-time network management software provides several benefits, such as:

    Proactive Network Management

    • Spot and fix issues related to network performance
    • Receive system alerts when the performance threshold is exceeded
    • Obtain device status identification on network maps

    Network Capacity Planning

    • Re-route network traffic to improve flow
    • Identify any additional server-related requirements
    • Effectively plan for future network usage by reviewing historical data trends

    Network Services and Application Monitoring

    Network Troubleshooting

    • Rapidly access data related to memory, hard drives, jitter, connection speed and packet latency to find and fix any network-related issue.

    Network Mapping

    • Network monitoring software include seamless network mapping functionality.

    Network Alerts

    • Receive on-the-ground alerts to stay abreast of any network-related issues

    Summary

    As IT architecture becomes more complex, regular monitoring, optimizing and securing has become the need of the hour. For telecom operators, ensuring that the network functions in an optimal manner is a priority and this is where deploying real-time network monitoring software comes in.

    January 13, 2016 0 comment
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    Business Support Systems (BSS) is the software and processes required for the “back office” to function. Typically, for a telecom operator, the scope of BSS includes managing rating, orders, products, billing, fraud, and customer relations. Also included are providing revenue assurance and business intelligence.

    Operation Support Systems (OSS) refers to the network-centric elements, such as design, configuration, and monitoring; fault management; infrastructure security; and service fulfilment, quality, and assurance.

    Market Size and Growth Trends

    According to Ovum, annual revenues for the global OSS/BSS market will grow from $54.3 billion in 2015 to $63.1 billion in 2020, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.05 per cent.

    Meanwhile, the analyst firm forecasts that OSS and BSS revenues will keep pace with each other. OSS revenues will increase from $29.1 billion in 2015 to $33.7 billion in 2020(a 3 per cent CAGR). The growth in the OSS segment is expected to be driven by network management requirements- particularly network monitoring and optimization. BSS revenues will increase from $25.1 billion in 2015 to $29.3 billion in 2020 (a 3.1 per cent CAGR). Revenue management is expected to drive BSS growth at a CAGR of almost 5 per cent through 2020.

    In addition, the revenue/business model usually deployed in this sector is undergoing a change. In the period under consideration, software-led revenues will witness a marginal decline from $22 billion in 2015 to $21.9 billion in 2020, while service-led revenues will increase from $32.2 billion in 2015 to $41.1 billion in 2020 (a CAGR of just over 5 per cent). Cloud-based services will drive overall growth in OSS and BSS service revenue, especially since telecom operators are likely to shift to software-as-a-service (SaaS) and virtualized networks.

    Region-wise, OSS and BSS revenue growth will be the highest in Western Europe and Asia-Pacific, while Latin America will witness the largest CAGR through 2020, growing at a rate of 3.9 per cent.

    What is Business Support Systems

    Key Growth Drivers

    According to industry reports, the global OSS/BSS solutions market is chiefly driven by the rising adoption of convergent billon systems, increased demand for highly efficient customer care across major industries, and the steadily growth of the global telecommunication industry. However, there are also certain challenges facing this space-namely-the inability to integrate new OSS/BSS solutions with conventional systems and certain regulatory-related issues.

    Likely Future Trends

    • According to industry analysts, OSS and BSS vendors are likely to leverage the fact that network operators are becoming increasingly inclined towards outsourcing a certain part of their back-office functions.
    • Meanwhile, another trend will be the transition to next-generation networks, and the associated need for new management and support systems.
    • Transparency Market Research is of the view that the growing demand for convergent billing systems is likely to be a major trend, going forward.
    January 12, 2016 0 comment
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    An Enterprise Messaging System (EMS) is a system that enables “program-to-program” messaging between applications and systems in an enterprise.

    Ideally, an EMS ought to meet the following criteria:

    • Policy: A centralized policy of messages is a must, which permits different classes or responsibilities of users to access appropriate messages.
    • Security: Messages transmitted over public networks must be encrypted and authenticated or digitally signed.
    • Routing: The routing process ought to be efficient and intermediate nodes ought to be used if the body is encrypted.
    • Subscription Systems: Systems should have the ability to subscribe to all messages matching a specific pattern and differing content messages should have different type of routing, such as meeting different security or priority policies.
    • Metadata: The information contained in messages must be unambiguous and use metadata registries for each element of data.

    Typically, enterprise messaging is used for integrating various enterprise applications. It is a software interface that enables loosely coupled asynchronous data (messages) to be sent by one program and stored in a message queue until the receiving program is able to process it.

    Typically, enterprise messaging falls under two categories:

    Enterprise Messaging has been divided in to two categories – promotional and transactional.

    • Promotional SMSs: Used to promote a company’s products and services via bulk SMS. Typical features include bulk uploads, creating templates, creating phonebooks, scheduling messages, accessing delivery reports, and importing text and excel files.
    • Transactional SMSs: The SMS is usually sent by the sender’s name (brand name) and 24/7 live services.

    Advantages of deploying an EMS:

    • Secure Messaging – Transmission of sensitive information and files to smartphones or feature phones is carried out in a secure manner.
    • Global delivery of notifications, reminders and alerts.
    • Interactive Two-Way SMS – Typically used for appointment confirmation, business process automation, surveys and voting campaigns.
    • Campaign Control/Management – Marketing programs can be easily managed and their performance measured.
    • Delivery Assurance – Access can be obtained to detailed message delivery
    • Intelligent Analytics and Reporting – Customer preferences can be leveraged for targeted messaging programs.
    January 11, 2016 0 comment
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    A Short Message Service Center (SMSC) typically handles the SMS-related operations of a wireless network.

    When an SMS is sent, it will be sent to the SMS center first and then to the intended recipient. In a nutshell, the main function of an SMSC is to route SMSs and regulate the overall process. In cases where the recipient is unavailable, the SMSC will store the SMS, to be forwarded when the recipient becomes available.

    Typically, the SMSC supports basic SMS applications, such as voice mail notification, numeric paging, mobile terminate/originate, and mobile IP (web-based messaging), on a variety of networks. The SMSC also supports Enhanced Message Services, which includes ringtone downloads, picture messages, audio clips and contact lists.

    Advantages of the SMSC

    • The SMSC helps telecom operators differentiate their data messaging services
    • It supports enhanced applications
    • It helps increase customer satisfaction and subscriber loyalty while minimizing CAPEX/OPEX.
    • It safeguards an operator’s investments and offers enhanced, IMS/LTE-compatible applications.

    The SMSC supports multiple network technologies, including CDMA, IMS, TDMA, GSM and UMTS. In addition, the SMSC supports interworking among technologies for the delivery of SMS between networks. Built-in IP messaging enables single-box support for legacy networks and IMS/LTE and helps eliminate hardware proliferation.

    What is Short message service center

    Industries which might require a SMSC Platform

    Now-a-days, most of the industries look forward to SMSC. Few of the professional groups that can definitely get benefitted with SMSC are:

    • Telecom service providers
    • VAS Providers
    • Captive Network Providers
    • System Aggregators
    • Bulk SMS aggregators

    Technologies under the SMSC Platform

    Signaling Server – It has the receiver and the transmitter as the prime interfaces into the SS7 network. It is responsible for connecting with the MSC/HLR on the MAP layer of the SS& network.

    SMS Routing – It takes care of selecting the optimal delivery path in case more than one link to SS7 connectivity exists.

    SMS Filtering – It is used to decide the blacklist and White-list of MSISDN series, which helps deciding the mobile customers allowed to use the SMSC platform.

    Message Queue – It is a high performance functionality, which stores the entire SMS traffic before forwarding it to the destination.

    Connectivity Gateways – SMSC arrives coupled as default with SMPP and HTTP servers. The SMSC gateway pushes bulk SMS in case of A2P SMS traffic.

    January 8, 2016 0 comment
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    Inflation by hour
    inf-hr-icon1 A Coke bought at 8 a.m. cost ZIM$50 billion  inf-hr-icon2 At noon, the same Coke cost ZIM$100 billion  inf-hr-icon3 By 7 p.m. that day, the same Coke cost ZIM$150 billion

    2008: In Zimbabwe, with hyperinflation touching 500 billion per cent, all mayhem broke loose. A bottle of coke costing ZIM $50 Billion in the morning sells for over ZIM $150 Billion in the evening – a hike of over 300%. This was what living in Zimbabwe was like in 2008. Things came to such a pass by 2009 that the Zimbabwean Dollar (ZIM) was not worth the paper it was printed on and was soon replaced by the US Dollar. Although the currency shift managed to control the wildly galloping inflation but it also gave rise to new problems and challenges. “Dollarization of Economy” wiped off bank savings of millions of Zimbabweans even while they were queuing up in front of their banks to withdraw their savings. People lost their trust in banking institutions and turned to informal payment channels. Moreover, with $1 being the minimum currency in use, Zimbabweans experienced an acute coin shortage leading to “change problem”.

    Now, let us fast forward to 2015: the economy is rebounding, the change problem has been marginalized, and financial inclusion is finally a reality and not some visionary’s dream. The credit for driving this change goes to EcoCash, Zimbabwe’s first and most prominent mobile service company. Launched in 2011, by EcoNet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s leading mobile operator, EcoCash has grown as a viable alternative to cash for millions of Zimbabweans looking to save, borrow, transfer and save money.

    EcoCash practically makes every financial transaction possible using a mobile phone. Open and manage a savings account or get loan within minutes? It’s possible. Transfer money to friends and family instantly? It’s easy. Pay online or at POS using debit card linked to mobile money account? It’s doable. Whatever be the requirement – EcoCash make it happens for Zimbabweans!

    Today, EcoCash is used by 5 million Zimbabweans, accelerating the use of electronic payments in the country and making the economy cash-light. Watch this engaging video on how EcoCash has transformed the financial landscape in Zimbabwe.

    EcoCash in 2015
    Used by 53 per cent of Zimbabwe’s adult population Handles transactions valued over $5 billion annually Accounts for about half of Zimbabwe’s national financial services penetration level of about 30 per cent.
    January 6, 2016 0 comment
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