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All posts by Gary Collins

Gary Collins
Gary Collins started his career as a journalist working for Sunday Times and noseWEEK, amongst others. He now runs a consultancy specializing in TMT, mobile payment - offering business and management consulting and research across sub-Saharan Africa
  • Is Vodafone set for a major push into the South Pacific?

    Rumours are rife that Vodafone is set to buy a 50% stake in embattled South Pacific Mobile Network Operator, BeMobile which will extend the UK mobile giant's footprint into Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Vodafone is believed to be in advanced negotations to acquire 50% of BeMobile, effectively buying out large and small shareholders, leaving the balance in the hands of existing shareholder, PNG Telikom. BeMobileʼs performance (read: mounting losses...

  • Mobile money in emerging markets: where to next?

    We recently identified some of the main challenges that have faced mobile network operator (MNO) mobile money (MM) products, and why the concept's overall impact in emerging markets remains a bit of a mixed bag. This week, we look at whether the shift to interoperability heralds a new deal between banks and operators that offers a sufficiently compelling model to make services practical and affordable for the vast majority of the poor and unbanked. The aid and donor community has always strongly supported financial inclusion as a way of bettering the lives of poor people in emerging markets. But...

  • Mobile money in emerging markets: is the operator-led model broken?

    The runaway success of early operator mobile money products in East Africa held out a future for mobile network operators (MNOs) eager to generate new revenue streams, beyond voice and data by boldly grabbing the public mind and private purses of previously low and UN-banked emerging market society. These services have become a much-referenced ‘gold standard’ of not only what mobile technology and financial services can achieve in emerging markets. Four years on, with over 200 mobile operator mobile money services around the world, how successful have these services been? Research by the Mobile Money Unit of the GSM association (GSMA...

  • The key to USSD growth in Southern Africa

    USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), has enormous potential to deliver new products and services to mobile customers in sub-Saharan Africa, but has yet to come into its own as a mature, fully-fledged service. Like SMS, USSD has a low barrier to entry for subscribers and customers. It is intuitive, menu-driven and works across all handsets, yet unlike SMS, USSD services and availability varies greatly across Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and regions in sub-Saharan Africa. "Just about every handset made in the last 10 years handles USSD sessions and menus, and all GSM handsets will at least handle basic USSD, which...

  • How over-regulation has stifled the pace of mobile money adoption in Africa

    In a continent where less than 20 percent of Africa's population has a bank account and where latent demand for money services is so high, why are there no other success stories on the scale of Safaricom’s MPESA service, in Kenya? Diverse factors such as distribution networks or Kenya's unique social structure have often been cited as the reasons why MPESA has only worked in Kenya and not elsewhere, the answer lies in the requirement for compliance and regulation obeisance has cemented the role of banks at the core of the mobile money universe. This factor has undoubtedly played a...