This week sees the launch of a pan-African mobile wallet by MFS in, well, Africa in an attempt to get as many as 120million people using mobile money. Here in the UK – and at World Telemedia in Marbella – there has been much talk around wallets, with our friends at Veoo being all over the tech with the launch of their product.
Mobile wallets are an interesting phenomenon – and not a new one. They have been knocking about for several years and have been tried my a number of players, not least network operators Telefonica/O2 and Vodafone – with limited success.
What sets both veoo and the African MFS offering apart – and what makes them much more likely to succeed – is that they are designed to be more interoperable across networks and so not tied to any one operator, which is what did for O2 and Vodafone’s fledgling offerings.
Veoo has rolled out a ‘mobile wallet enhancement’ that aims to bring together the best functionalist of mobile wallets and enhance them with loyalty and marketing opportunities to help brands see how powerful mobile actual is.
The solution allows brands to create marketing material, coupons and offers that can be sent out as a simple URL that users then add to their wallets. The twist is that the coupon then lives in the wallet and can be updated as often and as many times as the brand or retailer wants.
This effectively makes the coupon like a ‘living loyalty card’ that stays in the wallet and constantly spills out offers to the customer.
And being in the wallet, it can use all the wallet notification tools to tell the customer that they have the offer when they are near or in the store helping overcome that loyalty card overload that many people experience, as well as being a way to drive footfall in to stores and other businesses.
Meanwhile, MFS has partnered with mobile network operators including Airtel, Econet, MTN, Orange, Tigo and Vodafone, to give its product – more a hub that services operator wallets – unparalleled reach into mobile wallets across the continent. The MFS Hub scales transactions across networks and borders to create greater value for customers and service providers, support regional and international trade, and boost financial inclusion.
These two plays are interesting. They bring together the couponing and marketing elements of telemedia and the payments side – and they now increasingly bring the industry into dabbling in loyalty.
Loyalty is ripe for a digital make over – as research by Veoo has found – and this could be a hugely profitable new area for telemedia companies to get involved in. Loyalty needs to be something more than a card you may or may not remember to take with you to the shops and which yields limited paper vouchers. It needs to become something much more slick and interactive – and personalised. And this is what combining mobile payments, wallets and loyalty can bring.
Veoo and MFS are certainly on to something and I predict that cracking this loyalty market will be one of the big themes of 2017.