My eyes opened in Kenya
It’s been a long time since my last post but my current holiday in Kenya has inspired me again.
It’s well known that in countries where the national wires infrastructure has been poor, the investment has been moved to mobile. About 9 years ago I was fortunate enough to spend some time with work out in Bangalore, India (an outsourced IT project). What struck me on that trip was how much content was being pushed via mobile. On that trip, it coincided with a major cricket tournament and the mobile network were spending a lot of money promoting their video content for these games. That was at a time when in the UK, it was probably only the adult entertainment folks who were pushing mobile video.
On this trip, I’ve been amazed about the reach that the mobile payment providers have. Driving through small villages that to western eyes are completely rundown and very poor, it was amazing to see the likes of Orange and M-Pesa advertising everywhere….hut after hut.
Putting touch payments on your Visa or the Barclaycard stickers to one side, these levels of micro-payments are incredible. Here in Kenya there are some changes ahead with some increased charges coming for these payment although it looks like transferring below around 80 pence will be free. The ease with which money can be moved is a signal to the rest of the world that the user experience in this space needs a lot of work. My bank account still takes a few hours to process payments and my credit card is even worse. M-Pesa works in pretty much real time.
With the UK having a large, physical banking network, there is probably a reticence to ditch the old world fully and embrace the new. New payment apps are starting to be introduced but are focused to a reason to stay with a given bank I.e. We have some cool new stuff and not necessarily looking at what would make the very best experience. Legislation and FSA rules no doubt play a part in some of these restrictions but having seen how a completely different model works, it makes you think what would be perfect for us.
The question is, what will mobile payment look like in another 10 years and which country will I be visiting to see the latest development? Will the UK ever become the world leader?