Hannes'S Recent Blogs

Complex eco-systems only works in equilibrium. An argument for us
Mobile Money being used in retail applications.
Empowering women with Mobile Money. Enough research to support fu
Secure element on the phone. The implications of architecture and
NFC taking off will only happen with focused education
NFC taking off will only happen with focused education
The balance of non-competitive behavior in mobile payments
Are we seeing the start of a mobile payment bubble.
Summer was a bit late for Isis
What did the Olympics do to mobile payments

Breaking Mobile Financial News

Complex eco-systems only works in equilibrium. An argument for using Chaos Theory in Mobile Payments.  October 22, 2013

Equilibrium is a beautiful state for any eco-system to be in. In this state, all participants are participating and growing at the same rate. In a state of non-equilibrium, the dynamics are moving and some participants may eventually either die or be diminished to something much smaller. Equilibrium in small eco-systems with little participants can be achieved more easily, for instance by making small changes in some of the rules or contributions. The behaviour is also, most often, predictable. In eco-systems with many components and many possible combinations, it is often not easy to find a state of equilibrium. The behaviour is also often not predictable. Making a small change some-where can potentially lead to changes that was not easy to predict. (This observation is the basis of Chaos Theory). The questions to be asked is, is mobile money eco-systems complex eco-systems (are there many participants - sometimes with unpredictable behaviour) and would we prefer mobile money eco-systems to be in a state of equilibrium. It is my view that the answer to both is yes. Unfortunately the complexity of the mobile money eco-systems (many ...



Mobile Money being used in retail applications.  October 22, 2013

The spectacular growth of mobile wallets in emerging markets have been because of a big need in these markets. How to pay for things remotely (like airtime or bills), how to get money over a distance (like in remittances or person to person payments) and other challenges. As the penetration grew, more and more applications of the digital payment platforms were being developed - some of them very innovative.

Lately, there has been a drive to find solutions for using mobile to pay in a retail environment. These types of payments are mostly done in cash (and sometimes using traditional card solutions). While the existing solutions work well, they are still open to fraud and theft. Utilising the existence of many mobile money wallets in retail environments seems to be a logical next step. Many solutions have been deployed in this domain. Some have shown acceptable traction, but we are still waiting to see the big breakthrough. The challenge is to design a solution that is easy to operate, safe and fast. This is not so easy in a world where (almost) no phones ...



Empowering women with Mobile Money. Enough research to support further investments.  August 22, 2013

This was a blog that I was planning to write for a long time, but every time that I started, I realized that I cannot do justice to this in a simple blog and then stopped. Tonight, I decided to post my incomplete blog-post anyhow. I have come to grips with the fact that one can only scratch the surface of this important topic. While mobile money have made big leaps and bounds in many markets, bringing this service to women has lagged because of specific constraints (like women not always owning phones or lack of education).

The industry have made big gains getting to understand the need and the benefits to women through the work of the GSMA mWomen Programme with support from Visa. Research reports covering these aspects have been released conducted in five key countries Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Tanzania. It is worthwhile to have a look at some of the clips posted where women talk these studies (Video for Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan and PNG). USAid also performed a study looking at the access that women have to mobile ...



Secure element on the phone. The implications of architecture and brand.  August 8, 2013

In previous posts, I have discussed the implications of placing the secure element in the phone. (Read here and here).I thought that I have said what needed to be said, but having given it some more thought, there are even more things to be said - hence this post. One should actually think of secure elements as brands. In the old world, we typically know that we can trust a payment-instrument because we can see a brand that we associate with trust/security (like Visa). We can also see that this brand is connected or integrated with the payment instrument. It is difficult to remove the brand from the instrument. As payments become virtual, this is getting difficult. Even if you see the brand, how do you know that it is attached to the payment instrument (secure element). It could easily be some-one making themselves look like the secure element. Placing the secure element in the phone means that you will have to start trusting the handset-manufacturer's brand for payment. Maybe not a bad thing, you may say, but think of the implications if you ...



NFC taking off will only happen with focused education  December 17, 2012


Most of us belong to a group that are fascinated by new payment technology and also (often) love gadgets. This is why it comes so naturally to us to consider using our phone to tap and go. For many others this is quite a strange concept, if we want think about it for a while. In the mind of the average person, this is quite a strange way to transfer payment.
In a recent study conducted by Barclaycard in the UK, more than 80% of UK citizens now can recognize the contactless symbol (this has doubled in the past year). (Read here). Forrester research, in a recent article expects that it will still take a decade for NFC to become mainstream. They predict that it will take three to five years for critical mass (15% to 25%) to be reached (Read here).

For NFC to become mainstream, most subscribers will have to be educated. The payment mechanism will have to be explained and supported with clear instructions and guidance. Only when the average consumer understand and have been made comfortable ...



NFC taking off will only happen with focused education  December 14, 2012






Most of us belong to a group that are fascinated by new payment technology and also (often) love gadgets. This is why it comes so naturally to us to consider using our phone to tap and go. For many others this is quite a strange concept, if we want think about it for a while. In the mind of the average person, this is quite a strange way to transfer payment.
In a recent study conducted by Barclaycard in the UK, more than 80% of UK citizens now can recognize the contactless symbol (this has doubled in the past year). (Read here). Forrester research, in a recent article expects that it will still take a decade for NFC to become mainstream. They predict that it will take three to five years for critical mass (15% to 25%) to be reached (Read here).

For NFC to become mainstream, most subscribers will have to be educated. The payment mechanism will have to be explained and supported with clear instructions and guidance. Only when the average consumer understand and ...



The balance of non-competitive behavior in mobile payments  December 14, 2012

Some-one recently showed me a Spanish article published in Columbia (Read here). My Spanish is almost non-existent with only a few emergency words like "cerveza", so the only way that I could understand the article was to get it translated with Google Translate. Turns out, that the local banking council has been complaining about the business practices displayed by Claro (the dominant carrier in Columbia).

According to the article (and the cryptic Google translation), Claro decided to charge between seven and thirteen times more for banking transactions on their network. If I understand the article correctly, this is to fund the additional infrastructure required to offer banking services on their network. We that work in the industry has seen this behavior in other markets where carriers use their unique position to effectively block banks to offer financial services (or even worse) to compete with them, by implementing punitive commercial tariffs to effectively keep banks out of mobile banking.

This behavior is absolutely deplorable and a reflection on the ethics of companies that follow these practices. It is probably illegal ...



Are we seeing the start of a mobile payment bubble.  December 9, 2012


The definition of a stock-market bubble is a high activity of purchase of shares in stock that cannot support the prices being paid on the fundamentals of the business. Since the inception of stock-markets investors were warned not to invest during bubble times. In an article published in August Dan Freed alluded that one may be seeing the start of a bubble in mobile payment shares. (Read here).

In the article the following valuations/transactions are quoted as red flags:
The growth in eBay's value on the announcement of the deal between Discover and Paypal. Square's implied valuation of $3.25B after recent fund-raising Starbucks valuation on the back of mobile payment announcements. Since the article, further investments in mobile payment companies have shown very high valuations (not supported by real revenue). Below are some examples:
iZettle raises $31.4M dollar Series B funding (Read here). Paynearme (a start-up mobile payments company) raises $16M (Read here). Braintree (a supplier of payment services - including mobile payments, to start-ups) recently raised $35M (Read here). Paydiant (a start-up providing a white-label solution to banks) raised Series B ...



Summer was a bit late for Isis  October 31, 2012

Isis is a wallet solution for many payment instruments that reside on your phone. It is a product supported by key mobile operators (Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile) with the prime objective to activate the NFC capabilities in mobile phones. The drive is to create an acceptance mark (Isis Ready, Pay and Go or Pay and Save) where Isis phone app can be used to pay.

Isis were planning to have the first deployments ready and start accepting transactions at the end of summer. Austin and Salt Lake City was selected as the first cities where the solution would be trialed. But unfortunately, some snags lead to delays. (Read here). Good news was that the delay was not too long with the promised launch taking place this month - a bit late for summer (but just) (Read here).

The reason why this offering is interesting (and probably on the right track) is that the security is based on a special SIM card. (In other words, the secure element resides on the SIM). It also seems that the participating operators have ...



What did the Olympics do to mobile payments  October 11, 2012


It has been some time since we experienced the magic of the Olympics. The thrills of competition and the drama of the opening and other events of the games will be remembered for a long time. But for payment specialists it will also be remembered as the biggest NFC payment exhibition ever undertaken. Visa (one of the sponsors of the games) invested a lot of money to rig many outlets, vending machines and taxis with proximity accepting devices. Some reports indicate as many as 140 000 outlets.
Special prepared Samsung SIII phones with suitable SIM card was distributed to athletes, representatives of the media and other interested parties. Many of these people used the NFC phones successfully to purchase various articles in London during the games. The media gave very favourable feedback on the experience (Read here and here). One factor that was disappointing was the fact that the processing speed for a payment was not seen to be fast enough (less than 500ms) for the London Underground, so the NFC technology is not yet allowed there. (Read ...



Name: Hannes van Rensburg
Title: CEO
Company: Fundamo

I am the Chief Executive and Founder of Fundamo (www.fundamo.com). Prior to Fundamo, I was the Chief Information Officer for the Sanlam Group (one of the biggest Financial Services Companies in Africa (www.sanlam.com)) responsible for Group-wide technology deployment and was also a co-founder of a very successful South African technology company (Infomet - now acquired by IBM). I consulted to some of South Africa's largest corporations (including three of the biggest four banks) on the strategic application of technology.

In addition to having twenty plus years of systems management experience, I hold a number of degrees in Information Systems; is a member of the CSSA (Computer Society of S.A.(www.cssa.org.za)) and an ex-board member of SAICSIT (S.A. Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists). I am one of the founding members of CITI (the Cape IT Initiative (www.citi.org.za)) and is a member of a number of international workgroups on the application of technology in business.

I am passionate about technology and believes that mobile phones (and future pervasive devices) will change the way that people interact in more ways than just communication.

I am a re-born Christian with a close relationship with my God. He taught me to live in harmony with all people. I have a special relationship with my wife whom have been my partner for thirty years. I am passionate about wine, food and travel.

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