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Friday, November 23, 2007

Transferring money? Use your mobile

The new reform to hit Indian Mobile Industry is money transfer through your cell phone. Isn’t that amazing? Its something that should have been introduced in India much earlier compared to foreign countries, but it’s never too late. Imagine a guy working (lets say in) USA will soon be able to transfer his hard earned money to his family living in small town (say) Jabalpur via mobile.

All he would need to do is recharge his mobile phone with money, same way as he operates with his prepaid mobile account and then SMS the amount to his wife’s mobile.

In return, she would receive a number (similar to a PIN) and be able to cash it at any prepaid distribution point of her mobile service provider.

Anil Kapur, managing director, South Asia, Western Union Financial Services, said: “We have agreements with operators around the world, and are looking at mobile money transfers of principal amounts worth $100 and below. It will be a high volumes-low margin play. It will help the millions in remote towns and villages, who do not have or need a bank account.”

This is really interesting that with a single SMS one can from any part of the world to their friends, relatives or whom so ever concerned with a single SMS.

Since Banking regulations in India currently do not allow cash for exchange of another ‘unit’ such as ‘airtime’ in the case of mobiles. Only banks and the Indian Post (through money orders) are currently allowed such transfers. But now they are looking towards liberalizing it.

The technology is in place and operators are now waiting for the green signal. I expect some announcement and big surprises in this regard from big telecom operators and also by some advertising companies.

“We are currently developing the commercial and technical framework, which operators will be able to use to link their networks into Western Union’s money transfer systems. We expect India, as one of the biggest recipients of remittances, to be among the first countries to benefit from mobile money transfer services,” a GSM Association (GSMA) spokesperson told Business Standard.

Mobile Money Transfer wouldn’t just be limited to common man, big telecoms are going to exploit this opportunity to earn more bucks by introducing some charges on the money transfer. SMS is the most common feature used by major people using cell phones in India. It is a one good platform to get connected and reach maximum audiences. What I don’t understand is that today people and companies talk about GPRS enabled applications and smart phones and all the cool apps that require high end applications why do people and companies not leverage the already popular and readily available SMS platform and build services around it which will appeal to the masses.

Rushabh Choksi
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