Al Hammond

The Mobile Data Wave Begins

A new report from Vodafone shows that data revenue topped 1 billion pounds this past year, not including text messaging revenues. Moreover, data revenues grew 49% over a year ago, compared with 7% for voice and 9% for messaging. Think of this as a measure of the growing use of internet-based mobile services, clearly the next big thing in mobile telecommunications.

So what does that have to do with the Base of the Pyramid?? A lot.? True, most of Vodafone’s revenue now comes from the EU, although that is starting to change rapidly as the company focuses its investment on emerging markets. But an article in the Economist, A Bank in Every Pocket?, reinforces what we have been arguing (in The Next 4 Billion:Market Size and Business Strategy for the Base of the Pyramid and elsewhere on this site)?that mobile phone banking is starting to take off.?Fully commercial in the Philippines, Kenya, and South Africa, mobile phone banking could add as much as 1 billion new customers to the banking system in the next 5 years.? Such explosive growth would reflect the huge benefits of access to financial services for the BOP, many of them spelled out in the Economist article.?

And banking traffic is data traffic, whether done via messaging or directly via the Internet. So think of the Vodafone report as a harbinger for what will happen in developing countries too, even before the growth in voice customers begins to slow.