Where to play in the mobile value added services ecosystem

It is always interesting to hear discussions around emerging technologies or industries that seem to capture the minds of everyone; from your barber to the executive at a FMCG company. More often than not, if the discussion is based on mobile technology, a lot of assumptions are made as to who plays what role and where the opportunity lies.

At the very top of the mobile ecosystem is the regulator CCK – Communications Commission of Kenya who are in charge of issuing licenses to mobile network operators, premium rate service providers – PRSP’s and content providers. The different tiers of licensing attract varied fees with the current cost of the PRSP and content provider license standing at Ksh 100,000, on top of an application fee of Ksh.10, 000. The license fee is annual and from year two, it  is based on a percentage of revenue generated by your firm with the lower limit of Ksh.100,000.

The Mobile Network Operators are next in the value chain and they are the connection to the consumer. Currently you cannot go directly to the operators with a service proposition and have to use the licensed companies who have direct connections to the operators. The mobile operators give licensed firms access to their messaging gateways and voice infrastructure to allow for building of sms and voice based services. They also provide shortcodes to facilitate service rollout and enhance user experience. As they are the consumer touch point, they also handle billing with service revenue reconciliations done on a monthly basis.

PRSP’s and ASP’s – Application Service Providers form the bridge between services and the consumer. These firms play a key role in the ecosystem as they provide a variety of services and more often than not are the catalysts for innovation simply from the myriad of interactions that they have with potential clients. Clients in this respect can be end-users consuming content on their devices, SME’s and large corporations looking to rollout mobile based promotions or services.

This may be the ideal place to play in if you’re in the innovation space, as it offers the benefit of direct operator engagements, coupled with access to end-user focus groups who can be used to refine new service offerings.

That said, if you are a content provider, SME or blue chip company  and do not want to go through the rigors and strains of managing operator relationships, you could partner with a PRSP /ASP to take your services live. This will allow you to focus on your core business. The business model in the mobile ecosystem is revenue share with each player keeping a piece of the pie.

As with all ecosystems, this one will keep evolving and changing to adapt to new market developments, innovations and disruptions. Perhaps it’s time you staked your claim.

Published by

Mbugua Njihia

An Africa based entrepreneur in the pursuit of opportunities without regard to resources currently controlled striving to build services that have real-world value for my beloved continent and beyond while having fun along the way.