When it comes to mobile, Indiaâ€™s rate of development and the industryâ€™s potential is unmatched.
The mobile industry in India has developed at a phenomenal pace and in fascinating new ways.
The launch of Vodafoneâ€™s â€˜m-paisaâ€™ service last year, in conjunction with HDFC bank, is an example of this. The service provides mobile users with the ability to perform basic banking transactions, as well as make deposits and withdrawals at selected Vodafone m-paisa outlets. The launch of the service in Rajasthan aimed to cover 2,200 retailers across 320 villages and 54 towns.
Mobile banking can help provide banking services in rural areas that are typically not served by private banks. The mobile banking interface is usually simple enough to be used on feature phones and users just need to type in a code associated with a particular transaction. With no tedious filling in of forms and standing in endless queues at the bank or post office, m-banking can simplify the lives of many.
State Bank of India is also using mobile banking to extend its services across India. Faced with the target of addressing 662 unbanked villages by 31 March next year, SBI has also covered 496 villages, bringing banking services to the villagersâ€™ doorsteps using mobile banking.
Taken together these stories points to the bigger trend of how mobile is changing the nature of banking and finance in India, and the rest of the world. When he spoke at the 13th Annual Confluence at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad,Â Google India MD, Rajan Anandan explained that e-commerce is the next big trend in the mobile space enabled by mobile internet and the availability of mobile data services.
Indiaâ€™s mobile phone subscriber base makes it the second-largest mobile market in the world. It is no wonder that so many mobile innovations have begun to pop up all over. Just this month, the Kerala Tourism Board announced the launch of its mobile-based services including a mobile website, apps and Bluetooth kiosks. With the power of sheer numbers behind them, initiatives and businesses like this can be viable even if profit margins are low.
Many companies have already realized the potential of mobile and interactive media. The Times Business Solutions group of companies for example has many services like MagicBricks.com, SimplyMarry.com, and PeerPower.com, many of which are trying to leverage the mobile medium. PeerPower.com for example makes use of a unique street networking feature, which allows users to connect with professionals in their immediate locality or vicinity.
For mobile marketers like myself, this is simply a sign that Indiaâ€™s mobile space is maturing, and that the potential that has been latent for so long is finally coming to be. Including mobile payments, mobile finance, m-commerce and others as part of mobile marketing campaigns opens up new vistas, new possibilities. Consumers may be able to avail themselves of special deals or discounts, using their mobile payments to secure them in advance â€“ even pre-paying for meals or products and collecting them afterwards.
The prospect also exists for other services to surface, riding on the popularity and availability of mobile finance and commerce. Once payment systems and other means of handling money through the mobile channel become accepted and widely used, it becomes easier to tie them in to, say, location-based services, or even to integrate the information with augmented reality to provide richer, enhanced shopping experiences.
There might even be combinations and permutations that are inconceivable at the moment â€“ and it will be up to the bright minds of innovative creatives and forward-thinking creatives to come up with them. There will also need to be solutions to Indiaâ€™s unique sets of problems â€“ but with innovations like the Aakash tablet and m-agriculture initiatives where farmers are provided with information customized to their needs, it looks like the country is already well on the way to leveraging the power of mobile technology.