Without a doubt the most awaited corporate report this month was that of local mobile operator Safaricom, and the results did not disappoint and pointed to the evolving and cash rich ecosystem that is mobile.The factors that lead and will continue to lead bottom-line growth for those invested in one way or another in mobile are in plain sight for the discerning.
It is telling, when with four operators and 31.3 million mobile connections that sixty five percent of new mobile phone purchases are smart phones.Marry that with a new political dispensation that has forty seven county governments hunting for solutions to better serve the citizen. Flush with cash and already looking to mobile platforms to offer the most cost effective proposition for revenue assurance, information dissemination, healthcare service delivery, agricultural emancipation, financial inclusion and governance.
Opportunity attracts many suitors and we have played audience to a morphing telecoms environment with the licensing of new market entrants as MVNO’s. This has seen the incumbents opening up network inventory allowing for more innovation to thrive. Two examples of this is voice connectivity via SIP to certain channel partners that will drive innovation on voice, which in many ways is more ubiquitous than sms looked at in the rural context, second is number parsing that allows for personalization of mobile services but most importantly easier service on boarding.
Coupled with the potential for micro billing, this alone holds the key to double digit growth in value added services revenue. These have been available in other markets globally but certain paranoia had network operators lock down on access.
Mobile money – used by over 20 million mobile subscribers makes headway into value added services, allowing for a faster return on investment .Mobile coverage has increased to 96 percent of the population, and there are now over 3,500 3G sites in the country. This means it is now easier and cheaper to funnel in consumers to VAS services as brands and content owners can more accurately predict ROI and therefore have a better feel for marketing budgets and expected churn.
Innovation remains a mainstay in the various hubs and labs. This means, even as OTT platforms eat into revenues, we are seeing interesting applications of new channels such as WhatsApp to deliver traditional VAS services differently, reducing the load on network infrastructure but retaining the ability to bill. Reduced costs of engagement even on static margins, raises the bottom-line.
The connected mobile consumer offers rich pickings both short and long term.