Mobile banking (M‐banking) involves the use of a mobile phone or another mobile device to undertake financial transactions linked to a client's account. M‐banking is one of the newest approaches to the provision of financial services through information communication technology (ICT), made possible by the widespread adoption of mobile phones even in low income countries. Emerging mobile banking (m‐banking platforms) in developing markets enable two sided markets, bringing together mobile handset users with other mobile users and commercial partners. It is the argument of this paper that the emergence of m‐banking platforms has the potential for spill‐over effects, and that these spill‐over effects will require regulatory authorities to develop appropriate policy responses.
This article derives from research on the m‐banking strategies of mobile network operators (MNOs) in developing markets, and the regulatory responses to these strategies. Field visits were made to the Philippines and Kenya where m‐banking platforms are well established, and in depth interviews took place with companies that had succeeded in launching m‐banking platforms, or were considering strategic responses in markets where competitors had launched platforms. Companies were identified from the existing body of literature, observation and personal contact. Additionally, data were collected from developing case studies.
M‐banking has the potential to bring basic banking and electronic transactions services to unbanked consumers in developing markets. But in enabling two‐sided markets, m‐banking solutions also provide specific questions for telecommunications industry regulators. Regulators need to question if the elements are in place for m‐banking networks to tip towards a single platform, especially in markets with dominant operators that hold significant market share.
Because of the multi‐homing costs inherent in most existing m‐banking platforms, these platforms introduce both economic and psychological switching costs for consumers. In turn, these switching costs can have the impact of reinforcing existing network effects in markets where the incumbent already holds significant market share for voice traffic. There are a number of options available to telecommunications regulators in responding to the emergence of m‐banking platforms, and authorities should take a measured approach to achieve optimal societal and industry outcomes.
This paper fulfils an important void in the current literature related to the growth of m‐banking platforms in emerging markets. While there has been an increasing body of literature examining the potential socio‐economic impact of m‐banking in developing markets, the purpose of this paper is to explore the implications of m‐banking for competitive dynamics between competing firms, and the related issues for regulatory authorities.
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