The Fintech Transformation is Determined by Enthusiasts

There are around 4,000 registered fintech-related companies globally and their number keeps growing.

The fintech transformation stimulates the appearance of new payment providers, peer-to-peer lenders, innovative crowdfunding and trading platforms. According to Fortune magazine, $19 billion were invested into finance startups in 2015, which is a significant increase from $2 billion in 2010. These companies are changing the future of finance.

Fintech vs. Traditional Banking

Banks did not face any competition for centuries, which removed their stimulus to innovate and be transparent. Traditional banks have usually out-of-date, yet well-established IT infrastructures. This is an additional deterrent for incumbents to implementing new technologies, adapting to new customer demands and providing clients with the apps they expect to have.

Banks do not change quickly. Their established reputations force them to consider and reconsider lots of issues before moving one inch forward. If clients’ funds, or worse, their personal data (!) gets lost due to a new system, serious consequences will follow.

Even though the fintech transformation is happening quickly, banks are trying to adjust as well. Some of them are running accelerators such as the Barclays TechStars, others are opening separate divisions, for example Citigroup established its own Fintech unit. Thanks to this department that is focused on rapid prototyping, Citi plans to release a mobile-banking app with a cool facial recognition feature by the fourth quarter of 2016.

Fintechs are making it really easy and cheap to:

1. Transfer money;
2. Keep one informed about all account updates across devices;
3. Make better financial decisions through analytics, accounting, budgeting, prediction, and decision-making software.

Forbes gathered a list of the most successful fintech startups of 2015. It contains companies that deal with trading and investing, lending, payments, personal finance, currency exchange, you name it! They all stand out thanks to their brand new idea or approach that brings value to their clients. Here are some of the fintech areas in which you can open a startup:

1. B2B payments;
2. Mobile apps development for the unbanked and underbanked population;
3. Creation of social media platforms with integrated financial options;
4. Sales platforms for fintech products, etc.

It is today’s digital customers and their high expectations who push the fintech transformation on, while the trends toward the Internet of Things and Augmented Reality will only spur innovation in finance. One must only identify the areas which have been neglected and find a niche where more value can be brought. Can you think of some other areas which you feel could use a healthy dose of disruption?

You Need to Know about These Innovative Telecom Solutions

Telecom network operators have always relied on technology but have often taken a conservative approach, valuing stability from established systems above improvements through innovation. Faced with a rising tide of user expectations from the flood of OTT services, MNOs have now shifted their priority to streamlining their operations, improving the customer experience with real-time, agile telecom solutions.

To stay competitive, network owners and not only, will look beyond their traditional technology suppliers and seek out innovation.

Here are some innovative telecom solutions and technologies you need to be aware of:

SDN Solutions

SDN (software-defined networking) is a new architecture for data networks in which the emphasis is shifted from hardware to software. Being able to control networks through software allows for the streamlining of many IT tasks. Speed and automation are thus relevant for the development of IoT and cloud networks.

According to CM Research, SDN technology is disruptive, because the network can be controlled by more players than ever before.

A closer look at SDN solutions reveals that there are open source as well as commercial solutions available on the market. NOX, POX, OpenDaylight are free, while Big Data Fabric, Virtual Application Network, and Contrail can be purchased.

5G networks

The emergence of 5G (fifth generation mobile networks) is around the corner. 5G will provide faster speeds, greater coverage, as well as less latency in comparison with 4G networks. This is essential for the connected things of the future, such as VR, holograms, driverless cars, or drones.

Even though the industry consensus holds that 5G technologies will become publicly available by 2020, companies such as Verizon and Ericsson have announced that field trials will be run in 2016.

SK Telecom (the first to roll out 4G) has completed a successful 5G system field test this April. Park Jin-hyo, who is the senior vice president and head of SK Telecom’s network tech, said that the company plans to lead the development of 5G technologies and services and be the first one to commercialize it.

Huawei is not far behind. This May they have completed the first phase of key 5G technology tests as a part of field trials.

Solutions for smart cities

New opportunities for growth can be found in the development of solutions for smart cities. There is a municipal demand to operate cities more effectively by implementing platforms that allow to manage and monitor city lighting or video surveillance systems.

Citizens wish to have technologies that make their lives easier at their fingertips. As consumers, they inspire companies to create innovative telecom solutions that, for example, allow payment for parking or public transportation using one’s smartphone.

A UK based company offers an app that lets its users pay for the parking and it also allows to extend the parking duration remotely.

An innovative telecom solution allows commuters in Singapore to pay for the bus and train tickets with their phone. The technology enables data transmission between a mobile device and a contactless card reader.

To enjoy the service, customers have to purchase NFC (Near Field Communication) SIM cards and turn on their devices’ NFC function to make payments or top-ups.

This telecom solution allows to get rid of both cash and travel cards when paying for the transportation.

Mobile Money telecom solutions

GMCS (Global Mobile Consumer Survey) has demonstrated that from 2014 to 2015 mPayment (mobile payment) technology has increased in 4 times. eMarketer estimated that the total value of mobile payment transactions will grow 210% in the US in 2016. This happens thanks to the support from customers, governments and central banks.

Mobile money telecom solutions can be used by operators for a range of mobile money services, such as money transfers, international remittances and mobile payments.  Business of all types, from coffee shops to digital stores are implementing point-of-sale systems that allow customers to pay using mobile devices, therefore it is anticipated that the mPayment method will soon be adopted by many users around the world.

Innovative telecom solutions are going to predetermine the direction of the development of the entire industry. Companies that invest in the capabilities, technologies and relationships to foster changes now, will have an advantage for many years to come.

OTT Services – Friends or Foes?

Over The Top (OTT) services allow us to send messages, make calls, or stream video over data networks (Skype, Viber, or Whatsapp are relevant examples of such services). Their popularity is a call to action for mobile operators who are suffering from revenue losses.

OTT services have become extremely widespread thanks to lower costs, overall positive user experience (even though sometimes a VoIP connection is far from perfect) and platform independence. According to Statistia, Viber had 711 million users in December of 2015. Whatsapp had reached 1 billion users by February of 2016, and 300 million people used Skype in 2015. No wonder major MNOs are trying to introduce regulations and keep up with the competition.

Even though many studies have shown that restrictions on OTT services are bad for business, back in 2012 AT&T had offered FaceTime only as an added benefit of their data plans in the US. If the customer did not have the data bundle, they could use FaceTime solely over Wi-Fi.

South Africa is another country which is now considering imposing restrictions that would slow down innovation in this field. The two largest South African MNOs have called for regulations for OTT providers such as Skype and Whatsapp. Cell C, the third largest MNO from that country, has chosen to collaborate with OTT operators instead, and is now offering free access to social network services and a range of other websites.

Not so long ago European operators such as Orange and Deutsche Telecom have called for a fair regulatory environment for all services. They pointed that the increased competition from services similar to Viber is a reason for easing up the regulatory burden on operators. The decision regarding the reform will be taken by the European Commission later this year.

According to research conducted by Technotree, mobile operators predict an increase of data usage among subscribers. In order to benefit from this, MNOs need to make sure that data remains in their network, therefore they need to introduce new services. Thus, far-sighted MNOs are either establishing partnerships with OTT providers or are launching their own OTT services.

Over in The UAE, Etisalat launched its own eLife on app, allowing customers to watch more than 200 TV channels, movies and series on the go. The Spanish Telefonica launched a Tu Go app in the O2 UK network. The application allows customers to make calls from one’s desktop and be charged by O2 on the same bill as the cell subscription. This elegantly solves the problem of having too many invoices for using communication services.

Nevertheless, the approach of creating OTT services in-house has some disadvantages. Here are some of them:

  • Usually the apps are available only for existing subscribers, thus it creates no opportunities for acquiring new customers. In other words, to increase the amount of users operators have to work on increasing their subscriber base.
  • Considering the bureaucracy within MNOs,it takes  longer to develop, design, launch and market the product
  • It is virtually impossible to convince a Viber user to switch to a new application with the same functionality.

The second option is to start partnerships with OTT providers which is a far-reaching strategy. MNOs can benefit from collaboration by using OTT brands to sell more data bundles, charging for subscriptions or advertising their services and initiatives.

OTT providers don’t own any infrastructure. Operators have invested heavily in building the infrastructure and they own one of the most valuable assets – customers’ mobile phone numbers, which are needed for seamless communication between the telecom network and the internet. In other words, OTT providers and telecoms both have a lot to gain from a productive collaboration.

Operators must be responsive and adaptable to market changes in order to keep creating value. Partnering with a small and agile tech startup could be the perfect boost for any MNO or MVNO that is looking for a fresh take on offering their clients a valuable OTT service.

How to Use Mobile Banking Apps Securely?

While the amount of people who are using secure mobile banking apps increases every year, customers of online banking set themselves up for security threats, frauds, and other forms of cybercrime when using their smartphone.
According to a 2014 Deloitte report cited by Tripwire, 61% of people who do not use mobile banking apps said that security is their primary concern. So how big are the chances that someone can break into your bank account really?

In 2014 a malware called Svpeng has been detected in the U.S., the U.K, Switzerland, Germany, Russia and India. In the States the malware blocked the user’s phone and asked for $200 to unlock the smartphone. Once Svpeng got into the phone it began to look for applications from a range of financial institutions. The Trojan did not steal money or credentials, but rather it looked as if it was gathering statistics on mobile banking apps usage.

In Australia and New Zealand, a malware called Android/Spy.Agent.SI has been detected on Android devices this year. This time, the malicious software was able to steal a person’s bank details and even knew how to bypass 2-step authentication procedures. With all information in hand, fraudsters could easily transfer funds to a different account. Most importantly, the malware had not come from Google Play. The user would have had to deliberately install the application from other sources online, which means that security options had been changed by the phone owner so that applications from unknown sources could be installed. The takeaway: Don’t root your device and then install banking apps on it!

It is useful to know that iOS or Android smartphones don’t allow users to make admin-level modifications natively. Additionally, a verified market is available for downloading applications such as the App Store or Google Play. Mobile banking apps should also be secured by SSL security technology . Many large companies put their applications through source code obfuscation. This means that it will be more difficult for an intruder to figure out the source code.

Even though a lot of security features are currently in place in many apps, mobile banking applications still have security challenges that must be tackled. Security is one of the main concerns for financial institutions. People who wish to use mobile banking also need to keep security in mind. Finally, here are some useful security tips:

1. Don’t use mobile banking apps on a rooted or jailbroken device
2. Don’t download apps that did not undergo a vetting process (by either the App Store or Google Play)
3. Use secure Wi-Fi connections whenever possible
4. Put a password on your smartphone.

By following these recommendations, you will minimize security risks and diminish the odds of falling prey to cybercrime.

Mobile Applications Used in Business: Convenient and Simple

Mobile applications used in business improve the workflow inside the company, and have a beneficial impact on customer service and customers’ loyalty. More and more small and mid-size businesses understand the mobile trend and the fact that they need more than a website and a profile on social networks. Customers are overloaded with information and you need to add value to catch their attention and win their affection.

Mobile applications used in business are a necessity, because they can:

• provide customer service (e.g., banking or shipment tracking apps)
• give value added benefits (e.g., retail apps can use a reward program)
• bring convenience (airline apps allow you to change your flight or buy another ticket quickly)
• send push notifications to let your customers know about a promotion you are running
• bring additional revenue (your company can sell the premium version of the application)
• accelerate mundane tasks
• provide access to information when the employee is not in the office (e.g., access to CRM and databases).

A survey conducted by Canvas has shown that employees used from 1 to 5 business mobile applications in their work in 2014, while in 20% of the companies surveyed, employees used more than 10 apps in their work. Canvas has found that companies are saving a lot of money by using mobile applications that reduce manual processes. Also they have found that signature and image capture are the most popular features in business.

There are many mobile applications used in business, however if a process has to be simplified then it is close to impossible to find an application for that in an app store. In this case you need a nice and intuitive custom application developed with your process in mind. Let’s say it takes a lot of time to do a certain task, because the employee has to be outside the office and has to fill in a lot of vital, accurate information once he or she is back. If the task is completed on the go then the information stays error-free and it takes less time to complete the task. If your staff uses a custom enterprise application, then you will outperform your competitors.

Your business can streamline business processes, eliminate paperwork and make your customers loyal. Contact us to get an estimation for your custom mobile app.

Moving Forward,
DAS Solutions Team. 

A Mobile CRM for Real Estate Will Keep You on the Go

Office based CRM tools are offering a lot of useful information about your prospects and clients, but once you are out of the office you lose access to it.

A mobile CRM system for real estate agents boosts flexibility and increases sales. By using it you will always be on top of the game.

Increase deal closing rate

According to research conducted by Innopl Technologies, companies that use mobile CRM systems have better sales rates versus those companies that use only desktop CRM.

The sales cycle becomes shorter because a CRM can be customized in many useful ways. For example, an agent can show high-quality pictures and the layout of the building he discusses with the client during the meeting. Having access to all the information makes the agent more confident, which ensures that the he closes the deal.

Improve planning

Manage your leads, appointments, and documents effectively with a mobile CRM designed for real estate and get access to crucial information at any time from any place. After a fruitful meeting a mobile CRM platform lets you send contracts and other documents even before you get to the office.

Higher management can also benefit from a mobile CRM system because they can create reports to track the team’s performance even when they are on business trips. Any problems can be identified and eliminated at an early stage.

Keep in touch with your past clients

A mobile CRM will help you keep in touch with your past clients. You can send them warm birthday or Christmas wishes. Convenient reminders on your mobile device will be useful in your everyday work. Next time your clients decide to sell their house, they will contact you, because you managed to keep the relationship alive.

A mobile CRM for people who work in real estate is not an option, it is a necessity. It allows to keep up with the market and stay in touch with clients and prospects. Contact us if you are interested in custom mobile CRM for your business.

Moving Forward,
DAS Solutions Team.

Can Mobile Apps and VAS Get Along?

Mobile apps and VAS (Value Added Services) are competitors in the race for subscribers. According to research conducted by J’Son&Partners Consulting, MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) are making less profit from voice, SMS and MMS traffic. This happens because:

  1. The competition between MNOs is very high;
  2. The consumption model of communication services by subscribers has changed.

In order to diversify, mobile network operators use mobile apps and VAS. However, application markets have been winning the game so far.

Mobile apps help solve various problems in everyday life.

Thousands of applications are launched in app markets such as the App Store and Google Play daily. As a result, MNOs that previously distributed content via VAS need to integrate in the new model of content distribution via apps.

In a white paper published by a consultancy, N. Dobberstein and Soon Ghee Chua argue that MNOs should be “smart enablers”. The key to MNOs’ success is in the encouragement of collaboration between different multimedia market players and in provision of insights of customers’ behavior as well as in offering tailored solutions and recommendations to customers. MNOs have to incorporate mobile apps in their offerings to strengthen the relationship with subscribers.

VAS will always be more expensive than mobile apps. Alan Knott-Craig says that this happens because “mobile operators will always take too much revenue share. In SA [South Africa], MTN keeps about 40%, Cell C about 30%, and Vodacom about 20%.” On the other hand, he also mentions that Visa and MasterCard take from 1%-7% of the revenue share when people buy applications from stores. Another thing that makes the VAS model more expensive is that it relies on costly advertising, such as TV ads.

VAS are not as intuitive as mobile apps and are hard to discover. In order to use the service, the subscriber has to know the exact short code of the service.

The shift toward mobile apps is beneficial for end-users because data is cheaper than SMS, MMS or voice. At the same time the trend is favorable for developers who do not depend on MNOs and can market their services globally without any integration with carrier billing. This allows applications to reach more people than ever before.

Mobile apps and VAS continue their battle for the ARPU (average revenue per user) and it is far from over.

At DAS Solutions we follow the standard Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) to develop various mobile applications. We develop for Android, iOS and Windows Phone platforms. The choice of picking one platform or technology over the other depends on the customer’s specific requirements.