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Mobile money startups need agile, responsive technology.

  • By Timothy Roberts
  • Wednesday, February 05, 2020

We all know what it’s like to deal with service providers who are focused on the upsell. Think of the cable company that insists you bundle your package with Internet, or the dealership that will only cut a deal on financing if you buy their proprietary service package. Before you know it, you’re spending more than you expected to, in exchange for something you may never use. 

At Telepin, we regularly hear a version of this story from our clients. Often, these clients are pre-profit trailblazers trying to meet the needs of an underserved mobile money market. To survive, they must stay lean, move fast, and control their costs. But they’ve been told by “larger” mobile solutions providers that access to the platform technology they need is conditional on their purchase of ancillary products and services, like server hardware and outsourced maintenance. They’re facing a prohibitive cost barrier, all because they’re forced to buy things they don’t absolutely require. Frustrated, uncertain, and needlessly hemorrhaging money, they come to us for help. 

We share the same lean mindset that they do. It doesn’t mean that we stay small; our clientele includes tier-one mobile operators with a global footprint and millions of subscribers. The thing is, our clientele also includes startups who need an alternative to the bloat and expense of larger technology providers. They come to us because we leverage cloud technology to scale our solutions smoothly between these two extremes, providing exactly what each of our clients needs–no more, no less. 

We do this by focusing on three key trends:

1. The cloud has made deployment more affordable. 

Server hardware is becoming obsolete, and so is the price tag slapped on typical on-premises installations. By exploiting the dynamic and intensely scalable properties of cloud-hosted technology, we can help our clients get their platform up and running faster, and more affordably, than traditional operators. 

2. It is now possible to build your initial platform from à-la-carte, customizable services. 

In addition to signalling the end of upfront capital costs for server hardware, the cloud heralds an era of agile product development. Now operators can start lean and grow their platform incrementally, alongside the growth of their subscriber base. This reduces overall startup costs and creates a virtuous “test and learn” cycle in which operators can adapt their platform according to real-time subscriber data–an agility that’s much harder and more expensive to achieve if you’re locked on the rails of a predefined platform. 

3. A new breed of mobile money operator is emerging, empowered by scalable tech.

The combination of fast, affordable deployment and à-la-carte platform development has broadened the field of players interested in launching their own mobile money schemes. Shipping companies, retailers, and other entities not traditionally in the fintech space are seeing an opportunity to better reach and retain customers (that is, to improve their “stickiness”) by getting into the domestic payments game, disrupting traditional MNO-led initiatives. 

Each of these trends is possible thanks to the advances of an agile, scalable, responsive technological foundation that does away with traditional “bundle it and bill it” contracting arrangements. This is the core to our service philosophy at Telepin. We believe these trends will soon be responsible for a much more diverse, innovative and customer-centric mobile money marketplace, and we’re here to navigate that alongside our clients, big and small.