Bank Negara Malaysia has recently launched a new mobile payment channel called MyMobile through its wholly owned subsidiary Malaysian Economic Clearing Corporation (MyClear). For the kickoff, MyMobile has teamed up with the country’s three largest banks, CIMB, Maybank and Public Bank, as well as the three largest mobile operators, Maxis, Celcom and DiGi, who collectively represent 93 percent of the country’s market.
Interestingly, two of the operators, Celcom and Maxis, had already been offering separate mobile money initiatives for years. Each had its own standalone service, and neither had been able to dominate the ecosystem.
The lack of success was strange as Malaysia seemed like a great market, with 38 million mobile phones, and aspects of both an emerging and developed economy.
The country has a large, educated and employed urban population with good access to banks. According to recent estimates, as many as 70 percent of Malaysians have bank accounts. For this demographic, the opportunity is in mobile payments and top-up.
Malaysia is also home to three million (according to recent estimates) foreign workers from Burma, the Philippines and Indonesia that regularly send money back home. Obviously, mobile remittance is the big opportunity for this group.
The lack of interoperability in the market prior to this service is a key factor that has held the standalone operator models back from being used by the masses. It was the same situation we had with SMS and MMS until we connected mobile operators and achieved true interoperability.
For any system to take off, it must be widely available. That’s why MyMobile is poised for success: within Malaysia, it will be interoperable eventually between all banks and across all operators. Also, the company’s financial regulators fully support the new system.
MyMobile in Malaysia is one example of a shift we’re seeing in the mobile commerce ecosystem. We have companies and organizations that are already involved in payment interoperability stepping up and moving into the mobile world because they see that it’s the next step in the evolution of payments.
SkyCash is a similar company in Poland, created specifically to authorize and settle mobile transactions. paybox in Australia achieved this over eight years ago. There is still plenty of room for new players in the marketplace, and I believe interoperability—any operator, any bank—is the way to be successful.