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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Vodafone: Disruptive Products

There is a nice write-up about the Vodafone Kenyan associate, Safaricom, which is about to launch a money transfer product. Although digital cash is nothing new, I find it interesting that the mobile companies seem to have to more success in launching it in emerging economies rather than the developed world. Paul Makin of Consult Hyperion explains the success factors:
"M-Pesa is a valuable case study of digital money in action. It involves replacing cash with electronic money, it is for the mass market, it radically reduces transaction costs (for the least well off), provides new functionality including remote payments and, most of all, it provides an infrastructure that delivers capability and efficiency to the microfinance world, allowing them to stimulate new growth, new business and new opportunities."
One of my first posts back in April was about Location services about how the mobile industry had missed the boat with location services and companies like TomTom and Google were going to run away with the spoils. Well, imagine my surprise when TomTom announced an innovative service to be launched with the aide of the Vodafone Netherlands GPRS network.

Apart from the name of the service, the advantages of the TomTom system are:
Compared to RDS TMC based systems the TomTom travel time information service will have the following benefits. Firstly, it covers all major roads of the Netherlands as opposed to just the motorways. Secondly, it will contain door to door travel time information rather than just the length of a traffic jam. Thirdly, the TomTom navigation device can accurately compare various alternatives for total travel time and can (automatically) calculate the best alternative.
The main advantage which wasn’t mentioned in the TomTom press release is that the cost of the service is far lower than the alternatives. I can’t wait for the service to be rolled out to the UK.