The fact that New Zealand is so well served by Eftpos, something not seen in many overseas markets, means our mobile banking and payments market is likely to take a different shape from others, says Caroline Dewe, CEO of Fronde Anywhere.
Dewe says because of Eftpos availability, it is unlikely we will see the development of any massive payment hubs. Rather, mobility will be integrated into business applications and into niche applications such as the Fronde-developed “Text-a-park” parking payments system.
Dewe says that is key to the evolving mobile space locally, with organisations looking at new devices and seeing how they can be employed to enable staff and remotely enable agents and contractors. The market is “productivity-driven”, she says.
Fronde Anywhere was targeting Europe with its mobile technologies, but the credit crunch saw many projects there, especially in the banking sector, put on hold. That led the company to refocus on South East Asia, where it has two key reference clients in the Philippines: the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) and payments company ICAN.
The Anywhere unit went through a tough patch over the past two years and Fronde even considered selling it. But with activity now growing, Fronde Anywhere is off the market.
BPI went live last year with mobile banking and fully featured payments and customer self-service, Dewe says, adding that Fronde now has an “extensive pipeline” of business in the region.
The major driver is low internet penetration and high mobile usage, she says. This has led developing economies to seek to leapfrog standard banking services and go to mobile, which often lags in more developed nations. Mobile customer self-service is also a lot cheaper to deliver than rolling out bank branches.
“Emerging economies are bizarrely more sophisticated,” she says, with US banks still focusing on text services rather than fully featured applications.
Fronde’s mobile banking and payments products are marketed separately, but run on the same platform.
Fronde also developed 2Secure, a two-factor authentication system, on the same platform as its mobile products, and that has opened opportunities in Australia and New Zealand, she says.
2Secure can be integrated with corporate networks and so the corporate identity services market now beckons. 2Secure can be sold with Fronde’s other mobile services or as a standalone service.
Fronde is a major partner of Google locally. 2Secure can be used to authenticate users for access to cloud applications including Google Apps, Dewe says, as well as in the broader corporate and government identity market.
On top of that, Fronde Anywhere is starting to see some pickup now in Europe, with cancelled or delayed projects starting to reemerge in the wake of the global financial crisis.