Exclusive interview with Yves Eonnet, CEO of Tagattitude,
exhibitor at the upcoming Mobile Money Africa
from 27-39 May in Johannesburg.
1) Which mobile money projects/products that Tagattitude is currently involved with are you most excited about?
We have today more than 35 projects we are working on. It is very hard to tell which one is the most exciting, they all are in their own way. Each one of our partners is using the TagPay platform in a unique way—our platform is modular and includes a powerful back end and very user friendly front end with so many different ways to offer mobile financial services. It is always exciting when the TagPay platform is used to offer a service that will have an important and impact on access to financial services through an innovative approach. One such project that I am currently very excited about is a project in West Africa where our TagPay platform will redesign and dramatically improve all the processes involved in microfinance operations. Another exciting, but very different project is with the leading telecom operator in a Central African country. It hasn’t been announced yet so I cannot say who it is but it is very exciting to work with a telecom operator with a very ambitious vision for their market.
2) What are your current business interests in Africa?
Mobile money market is emerging everywhere. In Africa the cell phones will be increasingly relied upon to deliver financial services to the unbanked. Financial inclusion is the driving force of all our customers. The business interest is huge because a completely new kind of banking business is being built. We are working with many existing and new financial actors who have purchased the TagPay platform to be able to offer a portfolio of financial services to their customers which are accessed using their mobile devices.
3) Which regions are you most focused on?
East and West Africa are the most dynamic in our experience, but the south of the continent is becoming very active too and we are beginning to see activity in the north of Africa as well. The whole continent seems to be moving towards mobile money although each approach and strategy is unique. We also have some activities in Latin America. We are beginning to see a need for our platform and technology in Europe as well, especially since NFC continues to stagnate. However, the types of services that use TagPay in Europe are going to be very different from what we have been working on in Africa.
4) What do you think are the most challenging aspects of being in the mobile money industry?
I believe that there are two major challenges facing the mobile money industry at this stage. The first has to do with interoperability. As markets and services mature, it is obvious that users of one service will need to be able to transact with users of another service. We have built a platform that will facilitate interoperability for our partners but the technology is only one part of what needs to be in place to solve this challenge.
The second challenge has to do with mobile payment. P2P transfers are a good start but people need to be able to use their mobile money to pay in stores and on websites. This requires a technology and user experience that is secure, fast, anonymous, and guarantees the physical presence of the cell phone to ensure nonrepudiation. Technologies like NSDT make this possible but very few platforms use this technology.
5) What is your vision for this technology?
A successful mobile money service has to be built on a solid platform that includes the right technologies. Different technologies and approaches are suited to different types of transactions, cultures, and other factors. or amobile money deployment to succeed in Africa the technology must be extremely user friendly, cost effective and available on any existing phone. This is what our NSDT technology is all about. It secures transactions in stores and on websites using sound to guarantee the physical presence of the cell phone that is paying. It is as simple as answering a phone call and doesn’t impose any telecom costs on the users. Our vision is that NSDT technology will become the norm for point of sale and ecommerce mobile payments and that existing mobile money services will purchase the payment gateway layer of the TagPay platform to be able to add mobile payments in stores to their service offering.
6) What surprises you about this industry?
The technologies we are using are making bankarization viral in a way that it was never able to be with cards. People now can be enrolled in a banking system just because they own a cell phone. This is a revolution.
7) What will be your message at Mobile Money Africa?
Mobile money is not just money transfer. To bring real and impactful financial services to the unbanked one needs a platform that supports the whole ecosystem of mobile money services. A service has to offer at least 10 financial services: P2P transfer is important but not enough. Mobile money needs to allow people to pay in stores, pay on websites, pay bills, buy airtime, access savings, receive salaries, pay taxes, receive pensions, pay for TV and other subscriptions, receive and pay back loans, access insurance services … everything that can increase the fluidity of financial exchanges for the people and allow them to use their mobile money everywhere for everything. This is what our TagPay platform allows you to bring to your market.
8) Why did you decide to exhibit at the event, what are you hoping to achieve?
The south of the African continent is starting to deploy mobile money services and we are right in the middle of it. The first step (P2P money transfer) is on its way. It is the right timing to bring all the additional services that Tagpay provides. We believe South Africa is a very important location to meet with all the new players that are working on these programs.
9) Anything you would like to add?
Cell phones have dramatically improved the fluidity of information sharing between people – this was the very first step of the cell phone revolution. Our goal with TagPay is to allow people, employers, bankers, MFIs, governments, insurers, suppliers… to be able to share money securely with people just like we share information today. This is key for social and economic development. TagPay is a tool to generate growth by accelerating the speed and the security of financial exchanges. Our goal with TagPay is to spread mobile money all over the continent.