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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Kuwait Finance House Launches Islamic Banking App in Bahrain


Kuwait Finance House Bahrain (KFH-Bahrain), an Islamic bank, has announced the launch of a digital banking platform called Jazeel, according to a report. The community-based platform is a smartphone application by KFH-Bahrain to provide a full range of banking services. The app, available on Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, is currently only for customers in Bahrain, but it will soon be offered in other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, as well, said Subah Abdullatif Al Zayani, the bank’s deputy head of retail banking.
 
Al Zayani said the app will allow customers in Bahrain and eventually in the rest of the GCC (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman) to open a savings account based on Islamic finance and to access transactional and other facilities. He said the app is part of KFH’s consumer acquisition strategy and is targeted primarily at millennials and tech-savvy users. Al Zayani added that the app meets all industry standards.
 
Islamic banking is a system of finance that uses various innovative arrangements to comply with Islamic law—which generally the charging of interest to be usury and therefore forbidden—while still conducting modern banking. It is very popular in Muslim countries, including affluent ones such as the GCC states. Young and tech-savvy users are interested in having Islamic bank accounts and in doing financial transactions via their smartphones, which are integral to their way of life, so a purpose-built app from an Islamic bank is likely to find quite a few takers.
 
We think that mobile operators have an excellent opportunity here. While KFH-Bahrain’s app is operator-agnostic, MNOs in Bahrain and eventually elsewhere in the GCC could benefit from partnering with the bank to promote the service to their users and to bring in customers for KFH. In return, they could get a share of the revenue on a commission structure, or derive revenue from some other arrangement. Co-branding would likely be a win-win, and the first operator to the table could get an exclusive.
 
With the trend toward greater use of mobile money and smartphone-based banking in general, operators in markets with high Muslim populations should seek out partnerships with Islamic banking entities, which have a strong niche appeal that could benefit operators.



Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.  
To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Vodafone Romania Offers Bonus Data Via New App

Vodafone Romania is offering an app called NetPrimesti (“receive internet”) that allows users to collect data bonuses that can be used over the operator’s Supernet 4.5 network. Bonuses, which are available to both postpaid and prepaid users, can reach up to 25 GB every 15 days and as much as 50 GB per month. They are calculated on the basis of data traffic registered by end-users themselves and other users, regardless of the network they are on. The NetPrimesti app is available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.
 
Within the app, users can start or join a group of up to seven people, which may include family members or friends. The data bonus is added directly to the accounts of the Vodafone customers in that group. Mobile users from other networks as well as Vodafone Romania corporate customers can also join groups created through the NetPrimesti application and contribute to bonuses received by Vodafone individuals.
 
In addition, Vodafone Romania customers receive a one-time 10 GB bonus when they first join a NetPrimesti group called Smart Family. The new offer is valid until 15 June.
 
NetPrimesti is also available in a more complex version that allows more than just measuring data traffic. Once installed, the application calculates the cumulative data consumption of all users in a group.
 
We find this offer from Vodafone Romania to be very clever. Under the guise of companionship among friends and family, it encourages non-Vodafone users to switch over to Vodafone and effectively turns Vodafone users into salespeople for the operator. And all of this is perfectly above board and not deceptive in any way.
 
While some users may object to joining a group that uses an app that monitors the quantity of their data use, we do not think it likely that many will object, or that objections will be very strong. There does not appear to be any genuine invasion of privacy afoot here. After being on the app for a while, we imagine that the non-Vodafone users will grow impatient with letting their data usage add bonuses to other people’s accounts and start wanting it to add to their own allotments. Thus the potential of migration to Vodafone and a boost in acquisitions for the operator.
 
The metrics aspect of NetPrimesti will be appealing to many users, who are interested in knowing exactly how much data they have consumed, directly through the app, without needing to study complex bills. Plus there is an appeal to curiosity via the ability to know how much data one’s peers are consuming.
 
The bonus data amounts are quite generous, so much so, in fact, that one wonders whether end-users will be able to use it all. With some users, the more data they have, the more they will use; for others, at least the lure of getting something free of charge will stimulate them to use more data than they previously did, and the unused data will not cost the operator anything. Finally, the app is a good way to promote Vodafone’s developing 4.5G network, even if not all the data in question goes over that network.


Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.  
To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Orange Belgium Launches IoT services and Development Kit

Orange Belgium has launched two new services, called Rapid Development Kit and Connected Things, to provide IoT capability to business customers. These services follow the operator’s launch last year of NB-IoT and LTE-M networks.
 
The Rapid Development Kit enables business customers to build their own IoT solutions. It comes with a radio module with an Orange SIM and “plug-and-play” sensors to measure indicators such as temperature, air quality and geographic position. Connectivity is included free of charge for the first six months; after that, customers need to purchase a prepaid or postpaid subscription under the Connected Things range.
 
The operator has also introduced Orange Maker, which acts as an IoT application enabler to help customers connect hardware to the Orange network. The software includes wizards to automate common tasks and a portal to manage connected Sims.
 
The exponential worldwide growth of the IoT sector represents a tremendous opportunity for MNOs that can be exploited in various ways. Of course, the basic connectivity necessary for operating IoT systems will be coming over MNOs’ networks, so they will derive revenue from that. As such it is very much in MNOs’ interest to promote and facilitate the spread of IoT in their markets. The present offerings from Orange Belgium should help accomplish that goal, by making it easier for companies not only to set up but to conceive IoT systems to address new problems and tasks.
 
Beyond that, it is a good idea for operators to try and “own” IoT solutions as much as possible, rather than being passive, over-relying on expectations for connectivity revenue, and letting third-party developers dominate IoT system design. By marketing the Rapid Development Kit and Orange Maker to potential business customers, Orange is making itself a vital part of IoT development, not just a pipeline benefiting from development done by others. Ultimately, aiding IoT stands to increase the operator’s relevance in the IoT space and to burnish its brand in a more general sense.
 
Offering the connectivity free for the first six months is, of course, a deal-sweetener that should pay dividends in the near future in terms of customer satisfaction and retention.



Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.  
To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Mexican MVNO Simplii Launches Roam Like Home


Mexican operator Simplii has become the first MVNO in the country to offer expanded national roaming and international roaming at no extra cost. The company began operations on Telefónica’s Movistar network seven months ago, promising “more data for less money.” It has now extended its coverage to areas of Mexico outside Movistar’s network, due to the national roaming agreement Telefónica reached with Telcel (America Móvil) in 2016. In a statement, the MVNO also announced that subscribers to its 10 GB and 15 GB packages will be able to roam like home when visiting the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.
 
The bundles cost MXN 499.00 (US $26.51) and MXN 749.00 (US $39.80), respectively, and come with unlimited calls and SMS within Mexico as well as zero-rated data for the use of WhatsApp. Calls, SMS and data in North America will also be included in the plans, although calls and SMS from Mexico to international destinations are still subject to extra roaming fees.

Consumer impatience with roaming surcharges is spreading across markets worldwide, inspired, in part, by the recent regulation in the European Union against the fees. Roam like home is becoming an expectation, and even budget MVNOs are getting into the game. Simplii’s bold plan, building on its access to two mobile networks rather than just one, offers national and some international roaming free of surcharges, and with it, the MVNO achieves first-mover advantage in the Mexican market.
 
The surcharge-free calls, SMS and data in North America should be very attractive to Mexican subscribers, considering the frequency of travel between Mexico and the U.S. Canada and Puerto Rico are also included, although that appears to be the extent of the international roaming. Still, for an MVNO it is an innovative and generous offering that should gain the operator significant traction.


Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.  
To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Vodafone Australia Launches Unlimited Mobile Data

Vodafone Australia has introduced mobile plans that are described as having unlimited data. The operator’s Unlimited Plans will be commercially available starting on 2 May at three monthly price points, AUD 60.00 (US $45.28), AUD 80.00 (US $60.38) and AUD 100.00 (US $75.48). The plans include unlimited standard national talk and text along with 40 GB, 70 GB or 120 GB of data, respectively, at Vodafone’s standard network speeds, followed by unlimited data for use in Australia at speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps. The data allowances are available until 22 May as part of an introductory offer, after which they drop to 30, 60 or 100 GB per month.
 
With the tremendous expansion in consumer data appetite, driven largely by use of streaming entertainment content, mobile operators are under pressure to provide more and more data at reasonable rates—regardless of the negative impact that such packages might have on the bottom line. The marketing appeal of the word “unlimited” makes it tempting for operators to label offerings with it, even if sometimes the terms is not strictly speaking accurate.
 
In the case of this suite of three plans from Vodafone Australia, the word  “unlimited” is entirely appropriate when it comes to the voice and text features, but when it comes to the most salient feature, mobile data, it is arguably misleading. The reduction in network speed after allowances are surpassed really amounts to throttling, since 1.5 Mbps is slow enough to seriously compromise the usability of most data-intensive applications.
 
The data allowances are very generous, and few users are likely to need more than 120 GB in a month’s time. With this in mind, and considering the negative impact that throttling has had on consumers’ confidence in mobile operators, it might have been a better idea for Vodafone not to characterize the data offering as “unlimited” at all, but simply to emphasize the generous size of the allowances. In the U.S., for example, several major operators recently came under regulatory scrutiny and censure on the grounds that they deceptively described certain data offerings as unlimited.
 
Vodafone’s Unlimited Plans are being offered in response to a similar “unlimited” offering from competitor Telstra that also throttles the signal to 1.5 Mbps, so Vodafone would at least not be the only major Australian operator to do so. Telstra’s plan tops out at 40 GB at top speed, not 120 GB, and the cost is AUD 69.00 (US $52.08) per month rather than AUD 60.00 for the same amount of data, so Vodafone’s offering looks better in terms of competitive advantage. 



Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.  

To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Orange Spain Wins Big Data Contract for Transportation

Orange Spain and Madrid-based Kineo Mobility Analytics have won a contract to provide the country’s public works and transport ministry with Big Data analysis of user movements to aid the construction of new rail and road routes. The partners stated that the contract requires them to use anonymous data collected by mobile-phone antennas to study user movement patterns pertaining to road, rail, sea and air travel with a view to aiding the ministry’s decision-making process when it comes to rolling out new infrastructure.
 
Under the terms of the €158,000 (US $193,360) contract, Orange and Kineo will report back within four months with their findings.
 
This project provides a good illustration of two salient points about today’s mobile telecom business. One is that operators continue to look for ways to branch out and make themselves more relevant as traditional services face commodity status. One very good way to do this is to leverage customer data, which operators, by their very nature, possess in extremely large quantities. Orange’s network has 16 million users on it, with a further 3 million via MVNOs that run on the operator’s network.
 
Since one major trend in today’s marketplace is the expansion of data analytics in the public and private spheres alike, Big Data applications are a fertile field for mobile operators. 
 
In this case, Orange Spain is partnering with a data analytics firm to provide the country’s government with material that it can use to improve planning and logistics for transportation infrastructure. While this harvesting such data is not the core mission of an MNO, the data exists and can serve a purpose that was originally not foreseen. While the dollar amount of this contract is not very high, relatively speaking, it is essentially all upside because Orange is monetizing a pre-existing asset.
 
The second point to make is that with the increasing concerns about privacy, operators need to be careful about the uses to which they put the data they collect about their subscribers. Even with data being anonymized, knowledge that it has been shared can potentially sit ill with customers—particularly now, in the wake of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal. Sharing data with commercial and mobile advertising entities to sell products is much more likely to raise concerns than a public-spirited application such as helping a national government to improve transportation, which is likely to benefit everyone with no apparent downside. In the emerging era of Big Data, it is a good idea to be on the right side of history, and with this partnership, it seems that Orange Spain is doing just that. In addition to the revenue generated, the operator stands to burnish its public image and strengthen its brand.


Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.  
To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Vodafone Romania Offers Data Add-Ons for Business Apps

Vodafone Romania has launched plan add-ons that allow the use of proprietary business apps without drawing on existing data allowances. The new offer includes three categories of business apps, which can be activated together or individually and cover the country’s most commonly used applications for email, file storage and transfer and online maps. All three categories are available free of charge for subscriptions starting from €46.00 (US $56.80) per month or €0.80 (US $1.00) per month with three months free of charge for subscriptions from €12.00 (US $14.83) per month.

The offer is available for all types of voice and mobile subscriptions and for all Romanian companies, regardless of the number of employees or the industry.

This offer is innovative and has several attractive features. In today’s market, with ever-increasing use of BYOD and employees’ needs becoming more and more similar to those of consumers, it is a good idea for operators to get creative in designing plans and packages aimed at enterprises and SMBs.

Vodafone Romania has created this suite of offerings for all categories of business customers, casting a wide net while at the same time delivering a targeted niche product. Getting the business-app data free, so that it does not impinge on employees’ individual data allowances, is possible under the more expensive plans, while for the less expensive ones the line is charged a small amount per month. And while that amount is very small, for companies with a large enough number of employees it can make a difference, incentivizing the companies to move up to the richer plans.

As for the apps themselves, they appear to address major needs of most if not all businesses. And the fact that they have been created by or for Vodafone and are unique gives them selling power to existing and prospective subscribers of the operator. Such offerings are in line with the trend among operators to offer more and more exclusive content as a way of strengthening their brands and increasing their relevance in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

However, the success of this offering must depend on whether or not the apps themselves truly deliver the functionalities that are promised, and beyond that, on whether or not they are superior to or at least as good as existing software products and apps by third parties.


Tarifica is the global leader in monitoring and analyzing telecom pricing. Covering hundreds of operators in every region of the globe, Tarifica’s databases of mobile and fixed line data and voice tariffs are among the largest and most in-depth in the world. Tarifica is also a leading publisher of benchmark and other pricing reports, and its analysts are recognized authorities in the telecom industry, relied upon by operators and businesses worldwide for pricing insight and guidance.  
To learn more about Tarifica, please visit www.tarifica.com