MFS - Tug of War between Banks and Telcos
Oct 20 2016 by - Dipak Patel
Mobile Money is booming across the globe with a success story to shout about in every country. Kenya is an innovation and technology hub for Mobile Money since the launch of M-Pesa in 2007, which alone managed to flow 43% Kenya’s GDP with over 237 million p2p transactions. Other countries are showing similar results too; with smartphone and data penetration growing, customers are now finding it convenient & secure to do transactions online or through their smartphones.
Growing numbers and revenue potentials influenced both Banks and Telcos and tempted them to invade in each other’s territory to get their pie. Bank and Telcos represent two sides of a coin and with every toss, they want to win and play the game their way. The conflict involves the undefined roles of banks and telcos in financial services delivery, which are like “two gorillas in the jungle”, both fighting to expand their territories. Both these giants, loaded with stealth weapons are equally dominating and strong in their arenas. Banks with practical hands-on experience manage financial services & transactions with utmost security; whereas Telcos with a huge customer base and agent network, master in volume transaction.
Both are very crucial aspects required to manage the new era of Mobile Money services. The need of the hour is to offer financial services to a huge customer base, primarily the ones residing in rural areas with no direct access to financial services, empirically known as “Agency Banking”. Even though there are cooperative banks and regional rural banks in villages but most of them have failed to make an impact due to mismanagements and inefficient functioning methods.
Agency Banking is offering financial services through Agent network, i.e. banking services using Telco’s Agent Network.
It’s like the best of both worlds and would be in the best interest of the end customers, where retailers act as agents to facilitate cash handling and customer due diligence for account openings. Here the reachability of agent is used to address customer’s financial needs. Agents are equipped with tools like, Smart Mobile Apps, Biometrics, POS, etc. to manage the complete financial requirements of customers and act as Sub-Bank for customers. Where customers can walk-in anytime, can ask for:
· Account Opening
· View Balance / Statement
· Mobile Money – Wallet Transfer (Cash In / Cash Out)
· Request for Cheque Book, Stop Cheque Request and so on…
Business model is simple but the question that always remains unanswered is ‘Who would lead / manage this?’ Well, this depends on the country regulatory, but in most of the cases witnessed by us in Africa it’s a Telco led model. Banks are pushing it hard to get the required approvals and get back the financial control.
The saying “when two bulls fight, the grass suffers" is changing to" “when two bulls fight, the grass thrives". Doesn’t matter if it’s a Bank-led or a Telco Led model, the agenda is clear – enable poor people to access financial services at affordable rates and means. Successful deployment would result into below listed benefits to End Customer, Agent Network, Service Providers, Regulatory, and Country.
All this seems very candid, but the fact is Agency Banking would require great control over the agent network, service offering, last mile fund transfer, highest standard of security, and more. In the absence of a robust system, the entire model would fail or not gain the expected momentum. Be it Bank or Telco, they would require upgrading their tools to meet the requirements of Agency Banking. A solution that can seamlessly integrate with their current infrastructure and effortlessly manage the complete hierarchy of channel partners, commissions, products, taxations, compliance, and security.
We at Panamax, offer Agency Banking Solution, if you are looking for one, do get in touch with us.
How Secure Is the SMS Channel for OTP ?
Oct 10 2016 by - Bhavin Gohil
Mobile banking has taken the BFSI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance) by storm. According to GSMA report, today, there are more than 411 million mobile money users across the globe. These services are monitored by the regulatory authorities of banking / finance industry through various steps of security & authentication check.
Usage of OTP as a second step authentication to login into any systems is widely used in MFS / mPayment industry. It is used to provide authentication on IVR, Banking Applications, recharges, bill payments, etc. Such OTP is used to login in defined time duration based on application algorithm. A number of systems work to deliver OTP over SMS Channel because the SMS is considered to be the most successful data transmission technique and also due to zero logistic costs and end device liability.
The security of OTP delivered over SMS is the liability of network operators. Unfortunately, many operators are using a less secured network to deliver SMSs, which enables hackers to intercept into the network and steal the information being sent. Sometimes, users may become the victim of cellular network insecurities. Another pitfall is that even if operators resolve this issue by providing a secured network for SMS, the Malware Apps in the smartphones still pose a major threat, which can read your inbox and steal the sensitive information. Also as your phone receives and enables you to compete the authentication process, it being not authenticated (as is the case most of the times) leads to yet another security challenge.
OTP delivery over SMS by network operator should be secured by operator. Unfortunately many operators are using less secured network to deliver SMSs which enables hackers to intercept into network and steal such information. Due to cellular network insecurities users may become victim. Also if operators resolve this issue by providing secured network for SMS, still the Malware Apps in the smart phones are major threat which can read your inbox and steal the sensitive information. Your phone becomes a receiver for SMS only so that you can complete the authentication. The Device which is performing the transactions is not authenticated in most of the cases.
Also, many-a-times it becomes inconvenient to read SMS (in case you have not permitted apps to auto read your SMS inbox), copy, and paste / type it on authenticating application / interface. Many banking apps do not allow clipboard access, which makes it more inconvenient to complete the transactions. Sometimes due to this issue, you have to re-initiate the transaction. This makes it possible for the hackers to acquire the OTP through various methods like SIM Swap Attack, Wireless Interception, Physical Access to Phone, Mobile Phone Trojans, etc.
Moreover, OTP was never intended to provide a second factor. OTPs were invented to prevent replay attacks in the days when most of the network communications were unencrypted and sniffing of passwords was a much bigger problem than it is now. The thinking went that if you included a variable part in the password, then even if it did get captured from the network, the attacker couldn’t reuse it in any future session. OTPs do not protect against Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks either, so an attacker can still take over a connection where a user has sent an OTP. These days, SSL/TLS is used to encrypt network traffic and prevent MITM attacks, so these threats have been greatly reduced, and OTPs are no longer needed to prevent replay attacks.
Additionally, the delay of SMS OTP delivery represents the major limitations of the traditional system. While traveling also if you don’t have roaming activated then you will not get the OTP SMS delivered, another limitation of SMS based OTP. The cost of the SMSs and network coverage are other problems associated with the trend along with phone’s unavailability.
There are numerous solutions available in the industry to avoid these challenges of SMS based OTP like ultrasound authentication, RSA keys, LSB, software-based tokens, hardened browsers, PKI-based solutions, etc. Though they provide optimum security but are not being used on a large scale due to few drawbacks. One of them being, the end user must possess a smartphone and he/she should be literate enough to use them in routine processes. Also, proper infrastructure should be in place to deploy such solutions, which again comes with a huge bundle of CAPEX.
Is Fraud in Interconnect Business Eating into your Profits?
Sep 30 2016 by - Tapan Raval
Interconnect business is running since early 2000 when the calls started getting terminated through the Internet. This new technology attracted the entrepreneurs to start their own interconnect hubbing business with some investment and earn good returns.
As any business grows, the risk of frauds also grows, and the interconnect business is no different to this phenomenon. Last year interconnect voice termination business lost almost 5 billion USD to fraud. Majority carriers today, admit that fraud management has become their priority concern.
Interconnect fraud has a deep-rooted impact on carriers and causes direct/indirect revenue loss, adversely affects business partnerships, leads to customer dissatisfaction, gives carriers a bad reputation, increases new partner credit risk & Enterprise usage credit risk. Besides it also has regulatory impacts, causes overbilling, false disputes, high priced destination calling, blending high-quality routes, Looping fraud, CLI spoofing/Refiling fraud, Arbitrage fraud etc., and all this impedes the growth of your business and that of your partners.
Major hurdles in the fight against telecom interconnect business frauds are, huge transaction volume, lack of good regulation policy and regulator, cross-border jurisdiction and complex partner value chain.
Here are some reasons that lead to increased interconnect fraud: Based on a survey:
1. Growth of VOIP services
2. Number of new partners joining industry
3. No availability or poor availability for new partner credit check in some areas
How BillCall can help you to fight against interconnect fraud and increase revenue/margin. Here are some features that help identify different types of fraud.
BillCall has the capacity to detect the fraud activity based on rules, suspicious activity notification, FAS alarm, unauthorized traffic capturing and notification, live streaming and traffic pattern monitoring, reconnection /reactivation, call hijacking, arbitrage fraud, and refiling.
Big Leaps Towards A Cashless India
Sep 23 2016 by - Hardik Kanthariya
Making Payments digitally via Credit/Debit card has become extremely commonplace in India, for more than a decade now. The phenomenon has evolved in the last two years, and its credit goes to all the involved stakeholders. Collaborative efforts of Fintech companies that dished out innovative products, Governments that backed these products and Subscribers & Merchants who adopted these products, have brought in this change. For the last two years, India’s federal bank and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is walking hand in hand with telecom and Fintech companies and putting a new product every quarter.
Issuing payment bank license puts subscriber in the driver seat, while programs like m-Visa backed by VISA International and UPI (Unified Payment Interface) backed by NPCI puts subscriber and merchant both in the driver seat. In August 2015, M-Visa launched its pilot run in Bangalore and allowed the subscriber to pay directly to the merchant's VISA enabled Bank via QR code based payment. Visa brought on board, three private sector banks, to provide this service. In August 2016 RBI approved banks to officially launch UPI apps, thus allowing subscribers to pay merchants digitally and in a hassle free manner.
The success of the UPI belongs to its simplicity where subscriber does not have to ask for IFSC code or account number to do merchant payment instead they just have to ask for VBA(Virtual Bank Account) of the merchant. Besides, it is interbank operable, this means that a subscriber with Bank A can directly pay to a merchant & subscriber with Bank B. These two major features might boost up acceptance of payments digitally. In India, both subscriber and merchants are wary of disclosing their bank details. With the launch of VBA’s these details are now handled by technology and hence it seems that people might adopt this as a new way of payment.
Now as Banks are in the direct competition of Fintech Telecom Companies, banks also have to think like the telecom companies, and put marketing and support at the front. The success of all these programs and products depends on the awareness of the end user and low transaction costs. Huge investment for merchants and significant transaction cost in each transaction which needs to be borne by merchant has somewhere held back the exponential growth of card payments. On the contrary, wallets are booming in India in last two years, however, the span of the payments is restricted only to top-up and bill payment and is not going beyond that. VBA allows merchants to start accepting payments with minimal costs and as of now, there is no transaction cost for acceptance.
Current problem which I see for banks is uniformity among all the products. Most of the private and public sector banks have multiple mobile applications in the market for each of their operation, for example, HDFC, has different mobile application for Mobile Banking, Wallet, and UPI. Same goes for Axis bank, ICICI and SBI. If banks want to compete with Fintech companies then it is imperative to have a convergence of all these services under a single roof with a UI that all the stakeholders can understand. Also, Banks have to do a lot of marketing and train subscribers and merchants to start using the features of VBA just like the private players.
In this scenario, a solution like MobiFin seems to be the perfect bridge; as the modular architecture of MobiFin allows launching of all services under a single roof. A wallet user can link all the services like Top-up & Bill Payment, Voucher, Remittance, Stored value, Ticketing & banking in a single application. Service providers can launch location based service and push it to wallet user.
Mobility Elements to look for in your Enterprise Service Provider
Aug 11 2016 by - Nitisha Jain
Enterprise mobility is the talk of the town today – with growing demand and evolution, enterprise communication has become the most challenging task for an organization. In enterprise communication – Mobility “BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)” has now become an essential tool for employees to communicate and collaborate with various stockholders in all possible ways.
Enterprise service is a comprehensive term used to describe an architecture consisting of computer science and engineering discipline. Enterprise services architecture generally includes high-level components and principles of object-oriented design employed to solve practical business problems and match the current heterogeneous world of IT infrastructure.
The architecture of enterprise service has layers of components, which aggregates the data and application functions from various applications to create reusable elements, often referred as modules. These components use enterprise services to communicate & minimize the complexity of connections among the components, facilitating the reuse. The enterprise service components also allow deployment of Web services, which helps create applications within the current infrastructure & increase the value of business.
Here are a few things you must consider while choosing your enterprise service provider
Cut down IT infrastructure costs - Your enterprise service must use intelligent IP and wireless network infrastructure for saving the cost of IT infrastructure. This helps you make calls from enterprise VoIP solutions and use wireless LTE more cost effectively to connect your servers through the VoIP network.
Agility – The enterprise service should enhance your business agility by scaling IT infrastructure and provisioning resources when needed. It should scale communications when, where and how your business requirements change. Also, support the business continuity through easily configurable features and flexible VoIP design.
Mobility – Your employees are mobile and need the right communications & collaboration tools while they are in and away from their office. Enterprise service should empower the employees to access systems or services regardless of location or type of device they’re using.
Multitenancy – Enterprise service should allow the sharing of resources and costs among a large pool of customers. Its innovative communication features should help you control costs and improve customers’ experiences.
Disaster Recovery - The enterprise service should use multiple redundant sites, making the environment well-suited for business continuity and disaster recovery. It should deliver scalable & reliable communications solutions - critical in this customer-first and mobile era.
Enterprise service empowers the organizations with Unified Communications, which allows the best use of communications technology having features like HD voice, video, and makes virtual meetings easier, clearer & more reliable. Employees also have the freedom to communicate & work in other advanced ways using IM (Instant Messaging), desktop sharing, Presence, and more. They can not only communicate in office but through enterprise service apps for smartphones & tablets, one can also have the tools he/she use in office at home or any other place. Also, enterprise service simplifies your systems and fits in what you already have.
Mobile Money Ushers A New Era of Cashless Continents
Aug 08 2016 by - Preety Paranjape
After the immense popularity of plastic money across the globe, now Mobile Money is currently riding the popularity wave. According to a report by MEF that spanned 15,000 mobile users across 15 countries, 69% mobile media users use their devices for banking, while 66% are involved in some form of transactions via their mobile devices.
Demographics suggest that in the US and the UK mobile money has already become a popular mode of making payments; whereas PAN Asia and Africa, mobile money is now fast catching pace and is accelerating the inclusion of unbanked people into the financial ecosystem
As per another industry report by GSMA, Mobile Money has penetrated 93 countries around the world and is regulated by a robust enabling framework in 51 countries. Service providers are increasingly investing in mobile money. In 2015, revenues grew by 40.3% (CAGR), and 75% providers said they would increase their investment in mobile money. The trend continues and is predicted to grow in the next few years.
(Source: GSMA 2015 state of the Industry report – Mobile money)
In UK, US, Middle East and other developed regions, mobile money has penetrated the daily transactions, whether you are buying a movie ticket, bus ticket, fuel, grocery or fashion - it’s easily done using mobile wallets. There seems to now be a situation where these regions are competing to become the first cashless continent. This phenomenon is also widely spreading across the Asian, and African regions.
However, in several remote areas of Asia and Africa; banks, ATMs, credit card terminals or even landline connectivity is a rarity. In such regions, majority population is unbanked, smartphone penetration is low and internet accessibility is limited. In such scenario, providers should engage more people by allowing them to use Mobile wallets to make payments and all other transactions via regular mobile devices using unique ID codes over POS systems or via USSD. An agent-based model is also a great way to enable mobile money transactions via a third party, for people with limited access to smartphones, internet, etc. This is a huge step in involving the unbanked into the financial ecosystem and transforming the landscapes.
MobiFin Catalyses Financial Inclusion In Gambia
Panamax’s MobiFin is one of the leading players in the mobile money sector. MobiFin technology caters to both emerged and emerging markets enabling people in the most developed areas to the most remotest areas to make payments, book tickets, transfer money, etc. using mobile wallets. In a recently concluded project, MobiFin powered a versatile mobile wallet launched in Gambia, thus encouraging the financial inclusion of unbanked people in Gambia into the financial ecosystem. Download case study here: “Catalysing Financial Inclusion in Gambia”
Future of mobile payments in Developed Asia
The Asian continent is extremely diverse hence, while there are remote and underdeveloped regions; there are also developed regions acrossAsia, where smartphone and internet penetration, preference for cashless payment and e-commerce is growing extensively. The mobile money market here is evolving like never before. This region is ready to join the contactless bandwagon using technology enhancements in NFC, EMV, and HCE and overcome the challenges regarding the security & privacy of user data for cashless payment. Technological innovation and increasing focus on interoperability will put these challenges to rest and stoke the wave of cashless payments across the Asian continent.
Introducing Mobile Money in Regions Where Majority is Unbanked!
Jul 28 2016 by - Preety Paranjape
Mobile money has become vernacular in developed places. However, there are still many places where smartphone penetration, internet access, ATM’s, etc. is a rarity. So why should people living in these regions be deprived of becoming a part of the financial ecosystem if they do not have a bank account?
Panamax’s MobiFin is one of the leading players in the mobile money sector that packs in the power of mobile wallets into the hands of people, whether they have a smartphone or not. Partnering with QCell, MobiFin powered a mobile wallet that every person across the Gambian state can use to carry out various transactions, transfer money, buy tickets and do much more:
Building On The Blocks Of Automation And Convergence – Redefining Carrier Business
Jun 30 2016 by - Dipak Patel
I’ve something new and exciting to share this time. Most of you reading my blog are aware of the Carrier business and eagerly waiting for some breakthrough technology that can change the way we deal in carrier business. Today automation and convergence are the buzzwords, and this is the direction in which everyone is looking, as we wait for that breakthrough.
Last week I overheard some of my colleagues discussing Voice Carrier Trading Portal to simplify the complete carrier business. Out of curiosity, I dived in and found out that Bankai Group has successfully launched BridgeVoice- Carrier Trading Portal on a grand scale at ITW-2016 in Chicago.
Let me give you a glimpse to what this platform promises to bring to the table. Firstly, it’s not easy to manage, monitor and build the carrier business unless you have the right resources in place. Carrier business being dynamic in nature makes it difficult to keep a track of Sales, Margin, Partners, finance and so on – What if a single solution can solve all these hassles for you and you govern the entire project with few clicks.
Panamax is a technology wing of Bankai Group, and has powered BridgeVoice – A Carrier Trading Portal with its routing solution (iMax) and billing solution (BillCall). BridgeVoice, is one platform that equips you with handy modules that not just help you maintain business functions but also automate the business processes. The solution is developed to such an extent that it can save up to 60% of your resource workload so that you can optimize efforts in the right direction and grow your business rather than doing thousands of tasks with almost no results at all.
This Trading Portal will bring the customer and vendor onto the same table. They can conduct business with complete transparency and flexibility, and there is an assurance that all transaction they do is completely secure. The concept is inherited from share market, wherein you have a list of products with their price, and you choose the one you want to buy/sell – as simple as that. Below are the key highlights of the portal:
TRM (Telecom Resource Management)
It will help you manage your clientele, be it Customers orVendors. You can manage their basic details, financial details, technicaldetails and documents at one centralized location for effective tracking andmanagement of business.
Add to Cart
Doing business is now interesting and as easy as shopping.You select the product you like and pay to get them on production.
Sales Workflow Automation
With Sales Workflow Automation, complete business cyclestarting from engagement with a customer to getting them on board is atomizedwith up to 99.99% accuracy, leaving almost no space for errors andshocks. It can surely boost the overall productivity of your workforceand channelize efforts in right direction.
Business Reporting, Monitoring, and Alerts
Monitoring is a crucial part of carrier business, as it’s adynamic and live business. Monitoring every Ups and Downs are important. Thesolution offers customized monitoring widgets that keep you updated all thetime and alerts you on predefined triggers.
Affordable and Reliable Solution
There are numerous options available for carrier solutionbut when narrowed down to cost and reliability, there are just a few of them.This is precisely the gap that will be filled with this new and innovativesolution. Trading on this portal will be cost effective; people will be able tosave on initial costs towards the solution, overhead operational cost,maintenance cost and so on. It also comes with robust security standards,assuring you are safe from fraud and hackers.
Future Ready and Flexible
Everyone needs a future-ready solution that can handle andsustain for next 5-10 years at least. Worry not, this portal is future proofand is equipped to cater to your future requirements. Be assured the portalwill evolve and grow with you to stay relevant at all times.
I wish that I could extend more information; instead, I would like to invite you to our portal and experience doing businesses there. For more details, you can also visit our website https://www.bridgevoice.com/
Mobile Financial Services: The Convergence of Telecoms and Banks
May 04 2016 by - Rohit Sanghani
A tremendous transformation is taking place in the financial services sector that requires banks and telecommunications companies to use Mobile Financial Services (MFS) in order to engage customers that are embedded in mobile and social ecosystems.
On one side, banks contribute an existing financial network, infrastructure and strong brand recognition, while contending with regulatory compliance. Telecom operators, meanwhile, deliver wide distribution networks, mobile network infrastructure and an expansive customer base.
MFS is a very complex business environment with several players teaming up to provide these services. Major stakeholders are banks and telecom who are performing key roles as content creators and providers along with their core strengths. At times, telecom operators also attempt to serve as financial institutions by granting credit for micro payments as an extension of their basic service portfolio.
The MFS ecosystem comprises a variety of participants whose collaboration is necessary for the success of mobile payments and associated commerce. The diagram below illustrates the potential participants and their interrelationship in a complex MFS ecosystem, which depicts the importance of convergence.
There is massive growth potential for MFS across the developing and developed world, facilitated by the near global penetration of mobile handsets. While these platforms will take different forms depending on the market, there exists future opportunities for mobile operators in the cross-border remittance space that encompass a number of companies exposed to the MFS trend.
People may not have a bank account, but they do have a mobile phone and want to be part of the financial world, be able to send money to each other, and use credit,” states Joao Sousa, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer B2B at Portugal Telecom. “Smartphones are changing the way people are buying and accessing financial services.
MFS is evolving, diversifying from money transfer and P2P (Peer-to-Peer) use cases to more sophisticated micro-banking and payment services. From a single mobile wallet, users gain the ability to virtually store and access their financial assets, such as salary, social benefits payments, credit and debit cards, and coupons, and can make payments and money transfers.
In many emerging markets, the non-banking population comprises over 70%, while mobile phones are nearly ubiquitous, with penetration frequently reaching the100% mark. Operators are able to capitalize on this opportunity by offering basic mobile wallets, accessible from feature phones via SMS, which allow users to carry out money transfers, check balances and pay bills without needing to visit a bank branch. Instead, a more convenient system of agents is used, as developing markets tend to have low bank branch penetration,due to the high costs associated with these operations.
A cold war is being waged between the telecom operators and commercial banks over the Mobile Financial Services sector that has become a popular and profitable business for consumers and service providers. Many commercial banks,who now have their own MFS offering, have been trying to prevent the entry of telecom giants, who are desperately trying to tap into a new market that promises great revenue growth. And although several mobile operators have been pushing the regulatory agencies to allow them to have their own MFS, the banks have been opposed to this.
The good news is that service providers can partner with both these giants wherewithal understanding of the parties’ respective roles and expectations, and at the same time monetize on their individual strengths. The merger of telecom sand banks in Mobile Financial Services will lead to increased growth in the financial,retail and communications sectors.
Operators and banks are not destined to be competitors,” comments Sousa. “Each must learn how to partner and cooperate with each other to unlock the true potential of Mobile Financial Services.
Don’t Get Burnt by Overflowing Content
May 04 2016 by - Dipak Patel
It’s 6:30 p.m. on a Friday night at the city’s hottest new restaurant and business is brisk. Enjoying cocktails, nouveau cuisine and conversation in the dimly lit ambience, patrons enjoy an evening that’s relaxing and pleasant. However, it’s anything but calm behind the swinging doors to the kitchen. With waiters screaming orders and pots on the verge of boiling over, it seems like total chaos. Yet, by virtue of his experience and calm, it’s the kitchen manager that somehow makes the operation run smoothly, ensuring prompt service and sumptuous meals, night after night.
Enterprises, just like restaurants, require sound management to prevent their pots from boiling over too, albeit not with kitchen fare, but with increasing amounts of digital content. Managing this constant influx is a daily struggle that can cause employee stress, distract from companies’ core business and slow mission-critical functions. Today, the amount of data necessary to sustain an enterprise is skyrocketing, with over 80 percent existing in the form of documents, images and audio/video files. These factors have made it essential for businesses to explore efficient database applications and implement scalable content management solutions.
The Enterprise Content Management (ECM) market is evolving rapidly to address the abundance of information across various platforms, particularly over the Cloud. A company’s need to access and manage content from a growing number of diverse endpoint devices has lent urgency to identifying new solutions that expand the applicability and usability of their existing services.
Recognizing this growing need, Panamax has developed a comprehensive Content Management System (CMS) solution that addresses all enterprise requirements for managing data. With an advanced Service Delivery Platform (SDP) that overcomes each administrative and technical hurdle along the way, enterprises can effortlessly manage multiple services and channels, and simplify sales management. The result: increased service uptake, usage and customer satisfaction.
Of course, there’s no way to slow down the rapid growth of digital content, and so it’s imperative for organizations to implement an effective CMS solution to ensure data works for them and not against them. Ignoring this need is a pot boiling over, a kitchen without a manager, a recipe for disaster.
For more information on our Enterprise Content Management Solutions, Feel free to get in touch with us at email@example.com
7 Technology Investment Telecom CEO’s can make to cut down their Cost
May 04 2016 by - Boni Satani
With soaring competition in the market, it’s really important to provide the best services at the lowest rates. No matter how profitable your company is, there’s always that wee bit of fat that can be trimmed away to reveal a faster, shinier, more efficient version of the business.
Here are 7 Technology Investments that you can make to boost the revenue of your organization or business
Dispute Management Solution
Upgrade to TRM (Telecom Resource Management)
Invest in Mobile Financial Solution
NFV/ SDN Solution
Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) is the integration of real-time applications such as video presence, IM, email, voice mail, fax, video conferencing, web collaboration and CRM. The integration of all these various forms of workplace communication facilitates your telecom network with numerous operational advantages.
The empowerment of all these modes of communication and their ability to collaborate across mobile and static work locations reduce the response time for clients and alleviate interdepartmental issues. Further, the capability to provide more effective connectivity and communications among employees also improves the ability of an organization to move more effectively to hoteling and telecommuting environments, without the inefficiencies of people being “hard to reach”.
Intelligent Routing Module/ Software
An intelligent routing platform suggests routing through advanced Routing Analysis tool and allows you to take a decision before defining the routing. The system then automatically selects the optimal path of outbound communications traffic based on operators’ quality, margin or cost parameters.
Better Dispute Management Solution
Business and the disputes associated with it go hand in hand. Higher the volumes of business, higher are the disputes. These disputes, if not handled properly can eat up the bottom-line of the business.You should opt for the state-of-the-art systems and solutions, which can not only assure you ZERO revenue leakage, but also take care of the disputes automatically, in case any arises.
Upgrade to Telecom Resource Management Solution
Though Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is at the core of the enterprise, but Telecom Resource Management (TRM) is a solution that empowers businesses to completely focus on the customer lifecycle rather than sales process, which is the need of the hour for companies to increase their revenue and achieve sustained market growth.
Such kind of solution not only facilitates customer lead generation, acquisition, conversion, retention, and loyalty, but also specifies the labyrinthine terms and conditions of the agreements, tariffs, discounts, invoicing, payment schedules and more.
Invest in Better Mobile Financial Solutions
The revolution of mobile applications has totally changed the way people use their mobile devices. Besides calling, gaming and social networking, users have now started using their mobile devices for numerous services like banking, ticketing, bill payments, recharge, money transfer and many more.
Today, in order to drive new revenue streams and retain your existing customers, offering stable, secure and convenient mobile options to users has become vital for institutions.They have raised the need for mobile operators, service providers,banks, and financial institutions to have a flexible and scalable platform that can simplify service offerings through multiple channels.
Moving to NFV / SDN
Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) provides your business with a modern agile environment for prompt respond to customers’ needs, approach the market quickly with new services, and reduce both capital and operational expenditures. NFV takes software applications that run on proprietary hardware and allows them to run on standard x86 servers. This enable score network infrastructure to dynamically allocate network, compute and provide storage to meet the workloads on-demand. NFV also permits you to move these workloads to different servers. They can even be moved to different data centres as needed and scale them up or down without changing the underlying hardware.
Leveraging Cloud Computing
Cloud computing can greatly benefit the telecom operators, as users of the technology by streamlining many of their business operations through clouds. This will improve flexibility, accelerate time-to-market and help in cost savings.
Telecom operators can also choose to commercialise these cloud applications. This will open up the opportunities in traditional markets, including outsourced billing for over-the-top (OTT) players, or a vehicle that allows you to enter emerging segments like cloud-based machine-to-machine (M2M) platforms.
Lower marginal level and the accelerating demand of offering unique experiences every time to the customers require telecom companies to come up with some out-of-the-box solutions, always.
We are sure that these 7 ways will definitely help your business in accelerating the revenue, reducing the costs, enhancing work efficiency, increasing customer satisfaction, along with an array of several other benefits.
Panamax’s BillCall: A Convergent Billing Solution for Competitive Communication Service Providers
May 04 2016 by - Sumit Bose
According to a MarketsandMarkets report, the convergent billing market is expected to grow to $7.88 billion by 2019, at an estimated Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 22.2% from 2014 to 2019. Given the rapid growth in the telecommunications sector, particularly in the wireless subscription and smart device markets,the steady deployment of innovative services and the increase in customer base have created mounting pressure on existing network charging systems. Because a simple communication aggregate platform is no longer sufficient, Communication Service Providers (CSP) have to deploy convergent billing solutions to improve overall efficiency and enhance greater profitability. A convergent billing communication platform enables a centralized interaction and facilitates communication among the end-users.
To delve further, convergent billing is the integration of all service charges onto a single customer invoice and a unified view of the customer. Such a solution offers a host of advantages. For one, a single product and service catalogue reduces time to market and cost of implementation. Secondly, a unified bill enables cross-service discounts so that customers who order multiple services can receive preferential pricing. It also enables multi-service packaging and pricing, whereby existing customers are encouraged to add new services and new customers are attracted to purchasing innovative service bundles.Pre-paid and post-paid customers would receive centralized support under convergent billing, and companies would reduce their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
Panamax’s BillCall, an interconnect converged billing solution, is a high-capacity, scalable and a versatile billing system that can be used to enhance any CSP’s business model,including multi-service and Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)that require a convergent real-time rating and charging system. With its modular architecture, BillCall includes extensive billing and financial management capabilities.
BillCall features a Convergent Mediation capability that normalizes usage collection across operational platforms for multiple services, including Voice, SMS and data. The Convergent Charging feature brings competitive offers to market with flexible pricing, while BillCall’s Convergent Invoicing produces a single and logical invoice that enhances cash flow and customer satisfaction for multiple services.The Service Provider Financial Management layer provides a 360-degree view of service provider financial information, providing routes to answer inquiries and dispute resolutions,and the ability to make business decisions concerning customer accounts. It also makes customer financial information rapidly searchable so that all billing-related communication can be efficient and accurate.
Finally, BillCall’sCustomer Usage and Vendor Traffic Analytics feature allows CSPs to learn how pricing models, billing, and collections strategies can be adjusted for improved revenue performance.These lightning-quick, in-memory analytics help marketing, sales, customer service and financial operations teams to create competitive differentiation, enhance customer experience and improve business agility.
Conquering Top Conferencing Service Challenges
Jan 13 2016 by - Vikas Desai
Globalization of business, the emergence of workforce mobility, and the advancement of Cloud computing have all played key roles in transforming traditional communications, giving rise to a host of new technology advancements that have changed the way individuals connect and interact.One of these advancements set to become increasingly popular in the coming years is conferencing, which includes conference calls, web conferencing, online meetings, and video conferencing.
Along with enabling improved communication both across the street and across the globe,conferencing services save businesses considerable travel time and expenses, while positively impacting employee productivity, customer relations and partnerships,and ultimately, the bottom line. As more businesses realize these benefits, Markets and Markets estimates the enterprise collaboration market to grow to $70.61B by 2019. Each segment of the conferencing services market is also undergoing its own growth and rapid transition.
According to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research, the global video conferencing market will reach $7.85B by 2023. New research from Frost & Sullivan’s Analysis of the Global Web Conferencing Market report finds the market will reach $2.88B in 2017, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.8 percent.Ovum predicts that the global market for audio conferencing will hit $5.5B in 2015, driven predominantly by multinational corporations in emerging markets such as Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and Central and South America extending their conferencing reach into the various regions in which they operate.
Audio conferencing technology has experienced steady growth over the years, evolving from operator-assisted services to automated, reservation less and on-demand conferencing featuring unique dial-in numbers and conference IDs. Although convenient, some audio conferencing services still experience issues that can interfere with call quality for residential users as well as negatively impact business’ reputation and employees’ability to complete daily tasks if improperly designed, secured and operated.
For example, one of the most common audio conferencing problems for end-users is audio delay.Nothing is more awkward than attendees talking over each other on a conference line – except for the long silence when each of them hangs back and waits for the other to speak. Many Voice over IP (VoIP)-based audio conferencing users don’t realize that the issue is not with user etiquette, but likely audio delay that can be attributed to poor network infrastructure/ Internet connections, codec mismatch or improper configuration of the conference bridge. For telecom service providers, common challenges to offering audio conferencing services include billing and regulation, security, and differences in international network infrastructure, including unreliable or non-existent interconnections between carriers.
Recent advancements in conferencing technology have enabled softswitching technologies and integrated service delivery platforms that enable providers to virtually eliminate these issues and deliver high quality, feature-rich VoIP services to their customers.End-users also benefit, enjoying the ability to create conference calls, invite attendees, manage calls and participants with added features such as mute/unmute and conference lock, and provide easy-to-use web interfaces for the real-time sharing of meeting minutes, presentations and documents. One example of these solutions is Bridge2Call, a Class 5 softswitch and end-to-end IP telephony service delivery platform from Panamax.
Highly secure, Bridge2Call and solutions like it feature Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and firewalls for Denial of Service (DoS) protection. Built upon scalable and redundant architecture with fault tolerance, they ensure call reliability and voice quality, and feature carrier-grade switching that supports thousands of concurrent calls.These platforms also feature integrated billing and business process management, access number and subscriber provisioning,carrier management, and tarrif and calling plan management – a one-stop shop for the seamless management of IP telephony services.
With IP telephony service adoption such as audio conferencing on the rise, providers should seek out qualified partners with integrated platforms to help them address growing service delivery complexity. By combining order processing, service configuration, activation, authentication, provisioning and dynamic Interactive Voice Response (IVR) into a single system, these platforms enable providers to not only launch their services, but also easily manage their conferencing business from one central location.
Cloud-based IP PBX: One Small Step for Cloud, One Giant Leap for Unified Communications
Dec 10 2015 by - Ranjit Singh
Increased availability and accessibility of the cloud is driving the steady adoption of hosted Internet Protocol (IP) telephony and Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) services such as cloud-based IP Private Branch Exchange, or cloud IP PBX.Frost & Sullivan estimates that the installed user base is expanding at about 25 to 30 percent year-over-year.The convergence of these technologies means big advantages for businesses large and small, including end-users’ ability to gain significant competitive advantage and improved business productivity – all at a fraction of the cost of deploying and managing a traditionalPBX solution.
Traditional PBX solutions typically require hefty upfront capital expanses, including installation, equipment and operator fees. Adding additional phone lines and locations can also be a complex and expensive process. Furthermore, connecting remote workers requires complex workarounds because these solutions were never designed to accommodate devices outside of the closed network. IP PBX systems are operated by the business user or service provider, and switch calls between VoIP users on local lines and traditional telephone users, or between two traditional telephone users in the same way that conventional PBX systems do. While IP PBX does save the cost of requiring a telephone line for each user within the organization, it still requires substantial investment in on-premise equipment and system management. A cloud IP PBX gives the user all of the features of a PBX without the expense and limitations of hardware-based systems. A subscription-based service that stores and transfers data over the Internet, cloud IP PBX offers users the additional advantage of having all call routing done by their Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider.
For large enterprises with remote branch office locations and mobile workforces, these solutions offer a more flexible and cost-effective support method that enables them to consolidate their infrastructure and deliver communications capabilities to various locations based on specific user needs rather than underlying technology.SMBs on the other hand stand to benefit from advanced functionality and large pool of in spite of budget and IT staff constraints. Both groups can replace large upfront capital outlays with predictable monthly charges.In addition to enterprise and SMB users, Cloud IP PBX also offers significant advantages to service providers.
Whether you are a service provider or an end-user, technical advancement is likely top of mind. And since neither business can remain competitive without effective communications, a scalable and secure telephony system with rapidly advancing features that is economical and easy to use is a necessity.As an early innovator of cloud communications, Panamax has developed a new way to revolutionize business phone systems and simplify IP-based telephony using the power of the cloud – Bridge2Call .
Both business customers and providers benefit from Panamax’s Bridge2Call solution, which delivers reliable, easy to use and feature-rich IP PBX services to multiple premises of one client or multiple. Individual customer data and configuration / customization settings are securely segmented and stored on one powerful server in Panamax’s state-of-the-art data center.Users can easily be added / removed and employee preferences can be set via an easy-to-use, web-based management portal.Panamax’s Cloud IP PBX also features built-in business continuity, allowing calls and faxes to be quickly, mobility and easily routed to mobile devices should a business location be inaccessible due to power or Internet failure.
For enterprises and SMBs, the solution offers reliable HD quality voice connectivity requiring zero equipment installation and running over a dedicated or shared IP connection to one or more company locations. Using the web-based management portal, businesses can refocus staff traditionally dedicated to maintaining and managing hardware-based systems on core company initiatives and reduce overall operating costs. Businesses can also take advantage of essential calling features including voicemail, automated greetings, conference calling, call waiting, call parking and transfer, call logs and many more. Furthermore, customers seeking to migrate their legacy systems to Panamax’s IP PBX Cloud can do so easily with supported SIP Trunking, which ties their existing PBX into an IP network.
Bridge2Call offers service providers a single platform they can use to deliver, manage and bill for VoIP services, opening the door to more business opportunities. Providers also benefit from a host of features, including International Number Transfer Service (INTS), reseller management, dynamic Interactive Voice Response (IVR), call and carrier management, prepaid VoIP calling cards, and more.
Infonetics predicts the IP telephony and UCC market will reach $12 billion by 2018. To learn how Panamax’s Bridge2Call can help you capitalize on the cloud and advancing VoIP solutions, visit www.panamaxil.com/prepaid-retail-switching-solution/ or contact us directly.
Transition from multi-channel to Omnichannel banking
Nov 10 2015 by - Ankur Girdhar
MFS’ bastion of disruption has been built on two key principles of “Moving currency electronic” and “multi-channel”. MFS, in essence, is a “middleman” that doesn’t own anything – it simply facilitates convenient access to fundamental monetary services and range of Value added services through its multi-channel APIs with core peripheral systems viz. CBS, Remittance hub, merchant systems, IN platform and so on.
The particular core strength of multi-channel however, is also MFS’ Achilles heel. Each channel has its own backend admin interface to the business owner. Each of these admin panels are silo-centric and there is no consistency of information across them. Thus, the so called business intelligence of a multi-channel system is also confined to the individual channel. As has happened to many middleware IT systems earlier, multi-channel is about to get cut out by two bootstrapped challengers backed by the inherent demand of the telecom, enterprise and financial industry alike.
Called as Omnichannel and Unified commerce, these might be
MFS’ best shot to improvise on core abilities and to get the house in order.
Where Omni channel commerce is a consumer-facing proposition, Unified commerce is a provider-to-merchant proposition. The former is about enabling customers to do business on whatever mix of channels they choose. How channels are integrated is as important as what channels are available. Omnichannel smartly capitalizes on the failure of multi-channel to produce an integrated view of the business.
Unified commerce, on the other hand, is the ability for the financial service providers to source a full suite of POS and mobile commerce capabilities, business management solutions, and advanced managed services, all from a single point of contact. It calls for one vendor that can package the services in a single bundle in order to make implementation and management simpler — and more profitable — for any service provider. The crux is the ability of the entire MFS ecosystem of a service provider to be more easily integrated and overseen by a sole, qualified and accountable business partner.
In this article, my two cents would be on the former.Omnichannel is an outcome of two combating forces in the MFS space viz. rapid digital channel growth and strong factors that still attract consumers to branches.
Factors that drive digital banking are
Cost savings – Relatively less cost to go digital than to maintain and open new branches
Customer adoption – Educated customers, vying for convenience.
Customer satisfaction – Long service queues in branches leading to customer migration
Factors that help sustain branched banking are
Customer trust – More trust in local staff than the trust in brand
Service preferences – Human tendency to get assistance while doing certain transactions
Branch role in sales – Convenience of branch location leads to customer switching
This certainly shows that the foretold story of “death of branches” is slightly dubious.Even technophiles are dual citizens of the physical world. Brick and mortar continues to be a key element of a bank’s operations and thus the Omnichannel experience should rather allow the customers to choose the most appropriate channel(s) for any given interaction, enable a seamless customer transition from one channel to another(ability to pick from the state where it was left at the previous channel), correspondingly giving bank a 360 degrees view of the journey across all the hops.
With the pace at which technology advances, it is hard to state whether Omnichannel would be the next Unicorn for the service industry, but its aforementioned embalming abilities for the businesses, indeed make it here to stay.
Concluding here with the diagrammatic depiction of a customer’s journey in an Omnichannel environment.
Upgrade from CRM to TRM to Increase Telecom Services Revenue
Oct 10 2015 by - Manoj Jain
U.S. telecom industry spending is projected to reach $1.4 Trillion USD and global telecom spending will reach $5.6 Trillion USD in 2015, according to Plunkett Research. Worldwide, the VoIP service market alone reached nearly $70 Billion USD in 2014, fueled largely by growth in business VoIP services, according to Infonetics Research. Business voice services are the driving force within the VoIP services market, as the move to IP positively affects cloud, trunking and managed services across all business segments. Larger enterprises, in particular, continue to evaluate cloud-based communications while also migrating to (Session Initiation Protocol) SIP trunking for premises-based deployments. Comprising 38 percent of overall VoIP services sales, business VoIP services revenue grew nearly ten percent in 2014 over 2013, the latest figures available.
For telecom operators, service providers and carriers that’s great news. But what are your sales force, executives, and management doing right now to capture that business?Recognizing there’s money on the table is one thing, but penetrating, expanding and managing new markets while growing revenue presents far more complex challenges.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is at the core of any enterprise, but Telecom Resource Management (TRM), a solution that empowers a business to completely focus on the customer lifecycle rather than sales process, is what is needed for companies to increase revenue and achieve sustained market growth.Such a solution would not only facilitate customer lead generation, acquisition, conversion, retention, and loyalty, but would also be specific to the labyrinthine terms and conditions of agreements, tariffs, discounts, invoicing, payment schedules and more, with respect to carriers.
Recently, Panamax Inc. made enhancements to the CRM module of its interconnect billing solution known as BillCall. BillCall, a carrier management tool for telecom operators that provides accurate billing, pricing, routing and financial management information, is compatible with Class-4 switches, as well as Time-Division Multiplexing (TDM) and In-Line Disconnect (ILD) switches.It features origination, termination and transit traffic billing, as well as dynamic routing capabilities.
Telecom Resource Management is much more than CRM, billing and routing functionalities, however. By upgrading your CRM to BillCall’s TRM-focused platform, companies gain sophisticated sales force automation tools, including:lead generation and qualification, pipeline analysis, sales stage and probability analysis, approval workflow for special rates, routing and deals, competitor analysis, real-time forecasting, quota management, reports and dashboards, and other useful metrics and alerts. Once again, these functions give telecom operators and service providers the bandwidth to focus their attention on the customer lifecycle,rather than sales process.TRM is about increasing revenue, market growth and the bottom line.
The result is that telecom operators and service providers can efficiently create, account, deliver and bill for next-generation telecom services, while leveraging one standardized source of information for telecom use by which to track and evaluate sales performance and overall business.
Telecommunications is a rapidly expanding ecosystem of innovative products, technologies and services. Is your company adequately equipped to penetrate, capture and manage new markets while increasing revenue?Contact one of our sales associates concerning BillCall and its TRM-focused module today.
Communication journey: Wire to Wireless
Sep 10 2015 by - Dipak Patel
During a discussion with one of my friends,I was left wondering how things have evolved radically for Enterprise communication, from desk landline phones to Mobile App based calling. Now, one can have features like presence, file sharing, messaging, video calling, auto attendant and much more at their disposal, anywhere.
Many enterprises still communicate in the old school way, tying employees to their desk and expect utmost efficiency.Below are few of the issues faced by users following the old way:
Can’t leave the desk for fear of missing calls
Can’t take leaves or work from home
Multiple communication channels, difficult to manage
Difficult to know other’s availability and presence
Difficult to communicate while traveling
Low-cost smartphone technology and data which is thriving worldwide, has turned out to be a savior here. A simple mobile app with tons of features offer Unified Communication and Collaboration solution for enterprise clients.
A study commissioned by Salesforce.com suggests that 60% of employees now use apps on mobile devices for work-related communication and nearly a quarter (21%) use dedicated department-specific business communication apps. As a result, enterprise apps boost worker productivity by more than 34%.
Enterprises are gradually prioritizing the necessity to mobilize their employees making Enterprise Mobility the new big thing.Below are the key features that are of interest to enterprises:
Single channel of communication, be it Call, Messaging, email & Conference
No more tethering to desk all the time, freedom to roam and still work
Huge saving on incoming and outgoing calls and infrastructure
3rd Party Integration
Integration with corporate email / CRM / ERP / Accounting / Support tools
One global number to reach
Doesn’t matter if one is on leave or traveling, he is well connected and reachable
Enterprise controlled tool for all communication
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
Freeware app that would sync and offer most of the service
Saving on CapEx
The research major IDC has said that transport, communications, utility, media and BFSI would be key driving verticals for enterprise mobility.IDC predicts that cloud services market is expected to reach US$ 3.5 billion by 2016.Enterprise Mobility is getting widely accepted across the globe and is acting as magnet, pulling both enterprises and users with their benefits
Benefits to Enterprise
Lowers communication cost
Quick and easy communication
Simplified, Unified and personalized Communication tool
Boosts Work efficiency
Improves customer satisfaction
Benefits to User
Converge Communication – Managing Voice, Video, Messaging and Data on single device
Effective and Timely communication
Time and Cost saving
24 x 7 Connected and Available
Convenience during roaming
Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see”, enterprises need to change the way they communicate and will definitely see constructive results. In my opinion, enterprises that have taken the initiatives to change will see significant benefits.
Can dispute management lead to your organization’s growth?
Aug 10 2015 by - Sumit Bose
Wholesale voice business and the disputes associated with it go hand in hand. Higher the volume of business, higher are the disputes. These disputes if not handled properly can eat up the bottom-line of a carrier very soon. Let me illustrate with a real-life example:
“Carrier A used to send huge volume of traffic to other carriers (mostly operators) for certain key destinations. The billing at both ends used to differ all the time due to inferior switching & billing platforms at Carrier A’s end. For example, Carrier A sent 10,000 minutes of traffic to a premium high cost destination but the supplier’s invoice said that the billed minutes were 11,500, thus creating a dispute. To add to the problem, Carrier A was using a billing solution which couldn’t handle disputes. As a result, the already stretched staff had to work through manual methods to resolve disputes & many a times had to rely on supplier stats as they had no mechanism in place which could authenticate supplier’s claims. To make matters worse, Carrier A used to charge their customers on 10,000 minutes and had to pay to their suppliers on 11,500 minutes, thus paying the difference from their own pockets. This way Carrier A ended up paying more each time a dispute was generated. Gradually, this lack of dispute handling mechanism started eating up Carrier A’s bottom-line and a day came when they had to file for bankruptcy due to lack of funds for operating their business. Thus, a promising & growing carrier’s business came to an abrupt halt due to the lack of a small but very important billing mechanism known as Dispute Management.”
I’m sure that almost all of us from this industry have seen such cases or probably experienced themselves too. Did Carrier A had a chance to survive? The answer is yes, absolutely! Only if they had opted for a robust billing solution, giving them far more flexibility & features, they would’ve flourished instead of going down in the history books. Therefore, my advice to the young & aspiring carriers is to opt for a billing solution which can cater to each & every aspect of wholesale business, rather than just plain billing & invoicing.
Panamax’s BillCall solution provides such state-of-the-art systems which can not only assure you ZERO revenue leakage but also take care of your disputes automatically, in case any arise. It consists of an array of features like:
Effective analysis of invoice disputes
Able to reconcile vendor invoices
Able to generate disputes/inconsistencies based on deals and agreements
Able to track disputes
Able to do CDR reconciliation
Able to keep track of end-to-end dispute history
In my professional routine I regularly come across clients asking for a robust billing solution which can cater to their ever-growing wholesale voice business needs. BillCall, the Telecom Resource Management solution from Panamax has helped such customers to cater to their needs since past many years. This innovative platform is designed and developed with the concept of providing complete BSS solution to the carriers, dealing in VoIP retail and wholesale industry. It is a perfect multi-tasking resource management solution for Wholesale carriers. It enables dynamic reports which help business processes like Sales, Support, Disputes, Rates, Routing and Accounts & Finance to run smoothly.
For more details on BillCall and how it can optimize your wholesale carrier business, you can write your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unified Communications & Collaboration – The What and the Why….
Jul 10 2015 by - Vikas Desai
Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) is the integration of real-time applications such as video presence, IM, email, voice mail, fax, video conferencing, web collaboration and CRM. Through the integration of all of the various forms of workplace communication, UC&C provides for a number of operational advantages for both large enterprise and SMBs alike.
Through the enabling of multiple modes of communication and the ability to collaborate across mobile and static work locations, response times for clients as well as interdepartmental issues are reduced. Further, the capability to provide more effective connectivity and communications among employees also facilitates the ability of an organization to move more aggressively to hoteling and telecommuting environments, without the inefficiencies of people being “hard to reach”.
So, what is driving the migration and adoption of UC&C? Below are some interesting statistics:
Project Delays due to communication problems: 27% of employees (Forrester)
Wasting more than 75 minutes daily managing multiple channels of communication (email, IM, etc.) (Sage Research)
Failure to contact a co-worker on the first try 36% of the time (Sage Research)
52% of people utilize more than one mode of communication to get in touch with a co-worker (Sage Research)
Mobile users on UC platforms typically gain over 40 minutes per day in productivity (Sage Research)
A Growing Market Segment
The UC&C market is growing rapidly; different research firms place the annual growth rate anywhere from the high teens to the high twenties. The growth in this market is driven by the aforementioned advantages, but also the fact that it is now simply less expensive and less complicated to implement UC&C systems for both enterprise and SMB business than in the past.
Recent product and service introductions have brought us cloud platforms to provide Unified Communications and Communications-as-a-Service (UC&CaaS). UC&CaaSplatforms provide all the attendant benefits of cloud platforms in a general sense, including freeing up your IT staff to deal with other issues, the ability to scale up (and down) more easily with lower CapEx/OpEx, and not needing to devote huge rooms to video gear.
Further, with IM and chat supplanting email, UC&CaaS platforms make more and more sense. The addition of “social” into the mix for both internal use and outbound closed-loop marketing affinity activities also makes this trend an inevitable one. Security and compliance needs are also driving the “enterprisation” of the UC&CaaSplatform, as these particular modes of communication lack the persistence of email.
For both the SMB and enterprise, there are overwhelming statistics and business drivers that make the UC&C market a lucrative growth opportunity for both vendors and service providers alike. As a service provider, such as a Managed Network Operator (MNO),Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), Internet Service Provider (ISP), or similar business, the opportunity is to provide a versatile platform on which a business can rely on multiple services based off of IP telephony and broadband services. For UC&C to proliferate even more rapidly than it has over the last two-three years, the platform on which it is based must be flexible enough to accommodate both incremental and major changes to features and functionality.
For a service provider, deploying a platform that allows H.323, SIP and intelligent routing capabilities that scale enable it to be in a strong position to provide UC&CaaS–based offers to downstream wholesale customers, as well as large enterprises with their own specialized needs.
As a leader in delivering world-class turnkey telecom solutions, Panamax and its Bridge2Call solution provide a flexible, scalable way to address the UC&CaaS market. The platform allows for voice and data to be managed and billed on a single platform. With order processing, service configuration and activation, authentication and dynamic Interactive Voice Response (IVR) features, Bridge2Call is a flexible solution that enables service provider users to keep pace with and capitalize on the dynamic UC&CaaS market.
Simplifying Advanced Routing, Billing and Resource Management for Today’s Telecom Operators and Carriers
Jun 10 2015 by - Ranjit Singh
Agility, automation and enhanced operational efficiency are key to succeeding in the competitive and dynamic telecommunications marketplace. With billing, rating, routing, finance,deal, dispute and regulatory compliance, today’s telecom operators and carriers must juggle many moving parts when it comes to their wholesale business. The challenge of managing interconnections with multiple customers, vendors and fellow carriers is further compounded by disparate tools and varying service requirements, which can lead to ineffective routing, inefficient dispute and deal management,inaccurate business intelligence, and ultimately,revenue& business loss. In order to achieve higher operational efficiency, forward-thinking telecom operators and carriers turn to innovative technologies with complete end-to-end automation solutions to help them manage their wholesale business more effectively.
Panamax is helping today’s telcos succeed by offering BillCall, an easy-to-use, end-to-end carrier management and interconnect business automation tool that provides accurate information regarding billing, pricing, routing and financial management – a 360-degree view of their entire carrier interconnect business in near real-time.BillCall is easily accessible via API, it means 3rd party integration is possible with accounting ERPs like Quickbook&SAPand also accessible by mobile application and is compatible with Class-4.The service is so customizable and having modular architecture, that operators can pick and choose the BillCall modules that best meet their business and budgetary needs.
Some of BillCall’s key features include:
Billing& Accounting: The once complex carrier billing process is made simple with BillCall. The platform allows users to effectively process billing information according to carrier type – such as prepaid or post-paid, time zone, peak/off-peak, billing cycle, call duration rounding type and invoice setup.The platform also enables seamless third-party accounting integration and reprocessing of bills. With BillCall, invoices can be generated with a single click.
Intelligent Routing: Advanced routing to destinations across the world is easy with BillCall. The platform suggest routing through advanced Routing Analysis tool that allows to take decision before defining the routing and the system automatically selects the optimal path of outbound communications traffic based on operators’ quality, margin or cost parameters. Users also benefit from defined routing tables and schedules, as well as support for auto push on the network switch.
Advanced Deal Management: Never lose another deal due to lagging response times with BillCall’s deal alerts and automated tracking. Users gain visibility into their deal performance, including traffic statistics, and can easily generate a comprehensive performance report. Also user will get real-time deal statistics that ensures profit margin and revenue before finalizing the deal.BillCall also offers deal proposals and summaries for both unilateral / bilateral hard and soft opportunities.
Flexible Rate Management including advanced Costing & Pricing Policy: BillCall’sRate Management module makes contract administration and managing carrier tariffs, rates and discounts simple with access to vendor rate profiles, rate notification, violation notices, as well as an easy-to-use rate analysis tool and customer rate generator.The platform also features rate reporting and analysis capabilities,including rate change report generation. Furthermore, BillCall makes business beyond borders easy by supporting multiple currencies and time zones with zero hassle.
Mediation: The ability to collect, correlate and deliver accurate data is vital for successful billing and rating. With BillCall’smediation engine, telecom operators can minimize complexity and ensure the successful collection and processing of usage data from various networked devices, shortening their time-to-market.
Dispute Management: BillCall’s Dispute Management module enables users to efficiently track and handle all of their disputes via one easy-to-use system. Reconciliation facilitates to settle any disputed issues by identifying the disputed CDRs in billing (missing calls, over charging, different rates and call duration etc.) according to contract terms and conditions.
Carrier CRM: TheBillCall platform’s CRM module enables telecom operators to increase Return on Investment (ROI) by offering real-time analysis of sales pipelines and leads, quota management and other metrics. These functions give a business an opportunity to completely focus on the customer life-cycle (lead generation – acquisition – conversion – retention – loyalty) rather than sales process, thus increasing revenue.
Business Intelligence: Easy access to accurate business intelligence is now at telecom operators’ fingertips. BillCall provides visibility into traffic statistics and analysis, graphical reports, finance and business reports and switch monitoring via one intelligent dashboard.
Alerts & Notifications: BillCall ensures that users never miss an important event, and also designed for Bill Shock Prevention.The platform’s alerts are triggered by deviations in pre-determined criteria, including quality, credit limit, transactions, balance overview and systems.Operators can also customize alerts on-demand based on their unique business needs.
Highly scalable, available and secure,BillCall enables users to create carrier accounts, define the terms and conditions of agreements, manage tariffs, discounts, invoicing and payment schedules, and so much more.With timely alerts, notifications and detailed reports, BillCall also helps today’s operators comply with dynamic industry regulations and safeguard business processes.Our revolutionary platform simplifies advanced routing, billing and resource management for telecom operators and carriers in today’s dynamic, complex telecoms market.
Learn how your business can benefit from BillCall by contacting us today.
Revolutionizing Communication within Education Institution– A Unique Value Proposition
Mar 10 2015 by - Dipak Patel
Internet has become by far the most acceptable mode of communication for mankind, helping them to be connected with the world outside. Internet is now the elementary need for any business along with having a state-of-the-art communication system. Businesses these days are migrating to IP based communication where they can use the existing LAN setup rather than invest and maintain separate telephone copper network and get features like, advanced mobility, presence, video, IM, integration with CRM or any other 3rd party applications.IP Communication also bridges the gap of remote offices and provides huge saving along with mobility to businesses.
Communication is the key to success be it for individual, Corporate, Government, Education Institute and so on. Based on recent concept that we are working for one of our clients (a renowned university), here is the case, how Bridge2Call “IPOffice” is helping to transform the communication inside out.Bridge2Call-IPOffice is a comprehensive IP telephony solution, having state-of-the-art enterprise communication features and applications that are market leading, offering complete liberty to customer to roll out services as needed.
Our client approached us with a simple IP PBX requirement, where they wanted to connect their Offices, Staff Cabins, Labs, Class Rooms, Security, Reception, Director/Dean office and other amenities in the campus. They needed standard IP PBX features like;
Department & Extension Management through Web console
Incoming and Outgoing call log management
Call Forward / Call Transfer / Call Recording
Requirement was quite simple, however as a standard practice Panamax professional got into depth of the client business and their requirements.Our team identified that the university has three different campuses, though the requirement was only for one of their campuses.
Our team saw huge opportunity and designed a complete solution, where we proposed to connect all three campuses along with connecting students, staff and all key functions. Below are few key highlights of the proposed solution:
Multiple campuses of University were reachable by pressing a few buttons
University connects both Students and Staff using mobile app during off campus hours
Special tuition classes over conference calls
University announcement straight to each and every students cell using broadcasting feature
Students and staff are now more closer to each other for consultation
Messaging application to ask question and publish any extraordinary assignments with others
Free internal calling and vice versa
Campus-A to Campus-B
Campus to Student
Campus to staff
Student to student
Student to Staff
Above proposed solution exceeded client’s expectation and helped the university gain an edge over others and offering a new era service – solution literally bridges the university with their students and staff regardless of time.
This is one of many such ways in which Bridge2Call platform is helping institutions scale up the VoIP and communication requirements. It is a very exciting space to be in – imagine the potential of merging two services IP-Office and Residential IP Telephony (VoBB) and coming up with myriad solutions!
The changing wholesale business model for Telco’s
Apr 10 2015 by - Sumit Bose
According to a report “The future of International Wholesale” by Hot Telecom, the international wholesale traffic is steadily shifting from the larger operators/carrier to the smaller ones. Much of the wholesale traffic carried across the world today is through these smaller Tier 2/3 carriers/aggregators and poised to grow further. These carriers/aggregators have the advantage of local presence, which in turn translates to strong local routes with very aggressive rates. Therefore, interconnecting with tier 2/3 carriers for specific destinations is an emerging business model, which is one of the primary reasons for the spurt in the large number of such carriers.
Larger operators do not have the operational setup, bandwidth and manpower to tackle the growing number of carriers for interconnection. The operators are also burdened with old technology and now need newer solutions to manage the volumes. Hiring new people to manage the business processes further eats up into the already miniscule margins. Therefore, a drastic shift in the business model is being established.
The answer lies in automation and convenience of reach. The operators are positioning themselves in such a way that the smaller carriers interact with them conveniently and exchange information easily. Such a situation is helping to save cost and improve margins, which would otherwise have gone towards paying their sales & marketing manpower to reach out to the market.
This discussion leads us to think about a solution which competently handles the current carrier market scenario by utilizing the latest advances in telecom technology. Such solutions will have to be multi-faceted. One aspect of the solution should be able to deal with the telco’s day-to-day wholesale voice traffic, while the other aspect is expected to focus on smaller carriers, providing them with a platform to do business with the telcos’ with ease. The manual processes of client acquisition ranging from technical details entry, NDA, agreement, product selection, etc. should be completely automated and represented on a self-care portal, thus saving the huge manpower requirement of operators to run these processes.
Such a system helps generate a parallel revenue stream for the telcos without any major sales & marketing investments, and also make the most out of the opportunity present in terms of aggregating niche destination traffic on highly competitive rates.
Top 5 risks in starting a VoIP Business that an Entrepreneur needs to take care of
Mar 10 2015 by - Dipak Patel
VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is one emerging area of business that helps young and ambitious entrepreneurs to prove their mettle and get you rolling in no time. These entrepreneurs enter with a vision to create their name and of course a bag full of money.
Unfortunately most of them fail – According to Bloomberg, “8 out of 10 entrepreneurs fail within the first 18 months”, VoIP has got even higher failure ratio because of the shrinking margins and increasing competition. The primary reasons for falling face down are inadequate knowledge and somewhere in the excitement of being an entrepreneur, they fail to analyze the risk and underestimate the importance of key elements that are critical to a VoIP business. The top 5 such elements are:
Network is the heart of any VoIP business be it wholesale or retail. It is essential that the Network is robust and flexible to adapt to growing business needs and at the same time secure against frauds. Listed below are few issues that business tend to oversee and as a result fail:
Selecting cheap and insecure network elements
Unplanned network capacity
Network Security threat
Clients are your business partners either selling or buying services from you, comprising of vendors & customers. Choosing the right customer and vendor is key.
Vendors – Vendors are the clients offering you either complete A to Z destination or specific destination for call termination. Every destination will have rates and calls that are terminated to these destination are billed accordingly. There are plenty of Vendors available in the market however, only the vendors offering best quality and rates should be selected, to be the preferred choice for customers, to minimize potential impact to business.
Customers - Customers are the clients who are using your service and sending you the call traffic for various destination. Each destination should have enough margin to cover the operational and overhead expenses. It is crucial that customer’s requirements are met to maintain continuous business. Offerings to customer should be made after analyzing the market, not too high not too low, and winning the customer based on quality of service is the key.
Choosing the right set of people is important to lead your business to success. Selecting proficient Sales, NOC, Rates & Routing, Legal and Accounts team members and supporting them with right tools increases productivity and business efficiency. Data theft is one of the most commonly seen risk in the industry, and it is crucial to have the right process and privileges in place for the access to data.
Hiring resources without planning leads to dent in margins and slows down growth. Companies should consider partnering with 3rd party service provider for O&M and Support to cut down on their operation expenses and let experts handle those vital matters.
Companies often spend most of their money building robust network, procuring best in the market billing and switching tool and having best work force but still fail, due to not having adequate cash flow to run the business. Most of the vendors offer preferred rates in prepayment, missing out on such opportunity may harm business growth.
Maintaining credit limit at customer’s/reseller’s end is equally important and there are many instances where the credit offered piles up and at the end leads to bad debt.
Switching and Billing Solution
Billing and switching solution are the brain of VoIP business. Service provider habitually look out for cheaper solution which miss out of key aspects like:
Robust and Secure Solution
Easy to use and scalable
Smooth integration with 3rd party billing / Switching
Advance Rating and Routing to minimize day to day task
Absence of above listed key elements lead to hassles in day to day operations and in worst case major downtime, resulting in business loss.
Entrepreneurs must consider above listed key elements and play their cards right to achieve success in the volatile market. There are enough reference material available for free on internet for start-ups like, VoIP Info that can guide and suggest the know-how about the business.
These are the few of the key elements that I could derive after spending 6 years with Panamax Infotech ltd, a leading technology company developing Class 4 & 5 Switch and MFS solution. Please feel free to reach out to me for more details.
The changing face of Enterprise Communication
Feb 10 2015 by - Vikas Desai
Communication industry today has changed drastically with the evolution of Internet Protocol (IP) and its biggest impact can be seen in the altered way of communication adopted by Enterprises. Before advent of IP, enterprise communication was limited to voice intercommunication (intercom) using copper wires laid within office premises, and communication to outside world was depended on TDM trunks i.e. PSTN, CO, E1, ISDN-PRI and SS7. Major limitations of legacy TDM communication systems were;
1. Communication was limited to voice
2. Users were tied up to desk terminals where communication systems were physically available
Today, with the evolution of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) outlook of enterprise communication has changed. Now enterprise communication is about converged communication – integrating voice, video and data on common media. Communication is now beyond voice; video communication for instance has taken larger space. In addition, mobility has also become an essential aspect in day-to-day communication for enterprises. As a result, people on the move could simply turn on an application on their device and convert it into an extension of their office communication system.
As businesses are expanding geographically, need for multi-location connectivity has also increased. Thanks to IP Trunk, networking of multiple offices sharing common applications is very easy and cost effective. IP Trunk not only facilitates intercom between offices and sharing applications; but also provides for routing incoming calls when offices are located in different time zones. IP trunk reduces communication cost for long distance (international) calls, replacing expensive ISDN BRI-PRI service. IP trunk directly connects to call communication server eliminating capex and maintenance cost of media gateway. With IP trunk one need not buy block of multiple channels instead invest on bandwidth that can be expended with nominal incremental cost as and when required.
VoIP enterprise communication platform now comprises of Extensions (TDM + IP), Trunks (TDM + IP), Mobility (BYOD), Video Calling, Presence & IM, Voicemail & FAX mail systems with email integration. As the saying goes; any change has challenges to face, a major challenge in deployment of enterprise communication network on Voice over Internet Protocol is integrating and maintaining legacy TDM capabilities without compromising basic telephony services. Security is another key aspect IT managers are worried about while adopting it.
Implementing state-of-the-art enterprise communication platform with various applications needs qualified professionals with in depth knowledge on platform, security and also willingness to adopt new technology.
Bridge2Call facilitates enterprise communication through its “IP Office” with host of features. With continued investments into R&D, the platform not only serves today’s converged communication needs, but is also being readied for future enhancements. Bridge2Call supports host of essential features and functionalities like variety of IP user terminals, video calling, BYOD, Voicemail, Voicemail to email integration, multi-location connectivity. All of these are done without compromising on the security aspects.Bridge2Call is built around latest internet protocol security standards ensuring the security of platform, applications and the devices connected. Bridge2Call is also tested and implemented with most available 3rd party TDM gateway and application to offer advance telephony features.
Conversational Commerce – Marriage of old and new in Mobility
Jan 25 2015 by - Ankur Girdhar
A colossal shift in mobility space is in the offing; with the marrying together of messaging and commerce, former being the proven veteran of the telecom industry, while latter a new entrant, grabbing routine attention at telecom and financial innovation forums. Read this for example – a third of facebook users will be able to order food, buy products and what not in shopping by texting directly to the merchants. Sequoia Capital, a venture capital firm, have ever growing quest of funding innovative businesses has found its new destination in magic, a text based chat service that will now enable a user to order any on demand service from comfort of a text based interface. By the way, Magic claims that users can even order and rear a tiger at home through their on demand service.
The aforementioned has been christened as conversational commerce in which people can shed the yearning for downloading numerous mCommerce apps, giving that desired breathing space to poor handsets and rather carry out shopping and purchase through the routine text messaging interface. The disaster bells for mobile commerce apps rang earlier itself with the advent of aggregator apps that enabled users to take an informed purchase decision by helping compare prices across m/eCommerce providers and then directing the user to the WAP portal of the preferred seller. In a nutshell, no need to download individual sellers’ apps, with intelligence to buy from the most economical source. Junglee, mySmartprice, Trivago are some of the examples of the intelligent aggregator league. While the former two aggregate prices from ecommerce portals such as amazon, flipkart, snapdeal, indiatimes shopping, ebay; the latter enables hotel and travel price aggregation from sources as makemytrip, yatra, cleartrip, goibibo, etc. Select sellers as Myntra, Flipkart have found solace in app only strategy, but –my take is with the commoditization of mobile app space, even these mCommerce biggies would have to redraw their access boundaries to cover conversational commerce in some form.
In conversational commerce, the focus is on delivering handiness, personalization, and decision support while people are on the go, with very little attention to spare towards scrolling through the mCommerce apps and making multiple clicks to fill a shopping cart. In simple terms, we all text more than ever through likes of WhatsApp, facebook, line, so why not augment texting’s potential to commerce and more? Catalysts in the arm of conversational commerce are ‘doorman’ messaging services that deploy the aforementioned messaging intelligence and a human in the loop chat assistance to handhold personally when carrying out purchase.
While facebook and Sequoia are big names, the messaging treasure hunt has also been joined by the likes of SnapChat (funded by Alibaba) – a messaging service that also lets you do P2P transfers through its product called SnapCash, Tango (again funded by Alibaba, partnered with Walmart), Viber (acquired by Japanese eCommerce provider, Rakuten with the intent of delivering commerce through messaging), WeChat (China’s popular messaging service that also lets you call taxis, and pay bills through the all in one service), LinePay (messaging product of Line that allows you buy grocery, call taxis). Visibly, the Asian entities are frontrunners in this direction just as they innovated mCommerce much earlier than the famed western incubators.
These innovations are really thrilling and it is early to deduce whether it will change the face for the mobile commerce space. However, conversational commerce logically appears to be a win-win phenomena; a new access channel that would empower mCommerce industry quickly realize its vision of becoming a 700 billion US dollars business by the year 2018. It would certainly revive the passé messaging interface that was thought of the only access channel for mobile money at infancy, however with the difficulty of remembering different SMS short codes, risk prone due to the typographical errors, was outclassed by the jazzy apps. Over time, the use of natural language processing will automate these messaging based commerce services, persisting with the human chat companion to make mobile messaging shopping an easy, interactive and enjoyable affair.
In my routine business discussions, I get to hear this query very often if we can advise on an interactive, wow approach to mobile shopping for customers. MobiFin, the MFS platform of Panamax has helped our customers realize their wish. Through its modular and carrier-grade architecture, MobiFin enables mobile wallet and commerce based services over multiple access channels, text based messaging being one of these.
Ever-changing dimensions of VoIP Carrier Industry
Jan 10 2015 by - Sumit Bose
VoIP market has been one of the fastest growing markets in the world, in recent times. While, mobile technology changed the way we work and live, IP is the emerging technology to bring forth further changes in how people interact and communicate. With communication services now moving towards an IP focused environment, there has been significant development in building and communicating using IP based technologies.
Some of the key advancements to note are:
a) Voice services moving away from TDM to Voice over IP (VoIP)
b) Messaging services moving away from C7 signalling to instant messaging over IP
The international carrier companies or service providers have gone through a multitude of problems ranging from the telecom market bubble, to markets being liberated, to non-stop price declines and shrinking profit margins despite growth in volumes of traffic. While wholesale traffic has grown more, revenues have refused to go north. Therefore, the modest profits in the liberated market place are further strained.
Hence, international wholesale services are not left behind in taking advantage of the benefits of migrating to an IP environment. There is significant traction in wholesale services moving towards VoIP. This trend offers considerable growth prospects for those prepared to move towards IP and benefit from them, namely, swift deployment, lesser equipment costs, and flexible capacity.
Having said that, the VoIP market also demonstrates traits of being a complex area to do business, occupied with numerous carriers and weighed down by constantly altering rates. Currently the industry is going through a phase of severe competition and brisk technological innovation. Whilst, this is expected to stabilize and help the players and the end consumers in the long run, it is important that the carriers and technology solutions providers are prepared for the challenges.
Wholesale carriers are facing the need of processing high volumes of traffic – efficiently and at very low costs – to remain profitable in the business. Technology solutions providers are facing the need to develop stable, secure and convenient one-box switching/billing solutions for carriers/operators to drive new revenues streams, retain market share and maximize profits. Technology solutions providers also face an additional challenge of developing systems that aligns with ever-changing business processes and not the other way around.
I’ve been associated with Panamax for more than 5 years and have had the opportunity to see successful solutions emerge to the real life challenges. Panamax, for more than a decade, has been working with the philosophy of experiencing challenges first hand before developing solutions. Our close association with industry leading carriers help us to enable the right technology and ecosystem for maximizing profits. I’m therefore optimistic, that in the long run, there will be a successful ecosystem in place consisting of service providers, technology providers and happy consumers.
NFC – The Communication Channel Outside Your Wallet
Dec 15 2014 by - Ankur Girdhar
Myanmar is one of the last frontiers of the world. After having opened to free market in the recent past, telecom and banks are 2 of the most booming sectors. Recently I was having with discussions with a bank in Myanmar over their plans for mobile commerce. With the rudimentary nature of digital services in this country, NFC as a term for the country’s financial service providers is akin to a kid aspiring for a space expedition. However the question that came was, “Have you heard about NFC, can we do this”?I was slightly taken aback. Yet, when I thought deeply, I realised, “why not?”. While I recommended a phased approach to go with basic services and access channels in the beginning, and then think of doing NFC way, I also understood that the service is not anymore a luxury circumscribed to selected few in cash rich early adopter nations, but is a global phenomenon and is going to be the next big in our part of the world as well.
Near Field Communications traces its origin to year 2004 when Nokia, Philips and Sony converged to achieve what was considered as mission impossible till then, or was seen in those sci-fi movies where inner thoughts exchanged among humans through shake of hands with no vocal chords involved.
Yes, the concept was replicated by enabling information exchange between two handheld devices by a mere tap with each other. The basis for this information exchange is the short range high frequency wireless technology (10 cm range with frequency of 13.56 MhZ) that enables this phenomena christened as NFC.
NFC finds its utility in various use cases viz. access control to get entry in a secured area, to get detailed information from an NFC poster on wall… and many more.
Here are 2 fascinating examples
1. The biggest beneficiary of NFC has been the mobile financials space where we operate and which had given rise to the phenomena of eTailing. Here a window shopper can place an order by tapping mobile on a merchandise through the glass window while outside the store, and have money debited from his mobile wallet (the digital container where money is held).
The expression of interest to order turnaround in this case is a fraction of minute, as against the manual purchase wherein long service queues sometimes fade away the interest and cost the impending purchase. A brilliant instance of this will be Singtel’s NFC enabled mWallet service.
It is extremely popular and has taken mobile commerce to new heights. Retailers as Starbucks, Carrefour have partnered with Singtel to give a delightful customer experience and importantly for queue busting in their stores.
2. Acclaimed non-profit initiatives like UN’s World Food Program (WFP) also intend to ride on the NFC wave for enhanced operational efficiencies. A unique cash and voucher approach for food distribution to Below Poverty Line people is a case in point.
Such people will carry an NFC enabled card (akin to an ATM card) given by WFP and will use it to claim their food entitlements from WFP distribution centers. A tap of the card on the WFP agent terminal would authenticate the beneficiary and subsequently debit his digital wallet held on the card, to get food at subsidized rates.
Owing to such multi-faceted use cases of NFC, catering to heterogeneous socio-economic strata, it has thus become imperative for an MFS platform to support NFC based access – to attain the cutting edge status and have a sustained usability in both emerging and emerged markets.
Gone are the days when less secure and typo error prone SMS used to be the solo access channel for accessing financial services on mobile. Now we have popular modes as mobile apps, portals or USSD that are interactive and don’t require much of free flow text based time consuming input. However, change is imminent and with the race among businesses to come up with the apt customer experience approach, NFC is the right fit. The popularity of NFC based touch and pay approach is already wide spread, as an access channel is far more secure through related Host card emulation (HCE) techniques, is available in almost every mobile phone (an android phone costing 40 USD is also equipped with NFC). We are going to see the NFC regime in MFS going forward, it may capsize the access channels of today.
Panamax’s MobiFin is an intelligent, carrier-grade MFS platform that enables an access channel agnostic approach i.e. has inbuilt support ranging from primitive SMS to the heavyweight NFC.
More details on MobiFin can be accessed at www.panamaxil.com
To get further insights on NFC, it would be worth a visit to http://www.nearfieldcommunication.org/.
“United We Stand” – A winning combination
Dec 10 2014 by - Vijay Raghunathan
The woes of telecom operators continue unabated – dwindling revenues, saturated market space and south bound margins just to name a few. For telcos’, the writing is on the wall – revenue from traditional sources are declining & bulk of the future growth is going to be driven by new access technologies like VoIP, VoLTE and Mobile data.
A recent study (The future of international wholesale) by Hot Telecom predicts that international wholesalers/aggregators transport 2/3rd of international voice traffic currently.
However, this is expected to grow to 80%, with telcos’ migrating their voice traffic to IPX from the traditional path. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.5% over the next 5 years. With regulators putting downward pressures on termination rates and growing CapEx needs to roll-out capacity, migrating to VoIP presents a great opportunity for telcos’ to remain in the race profitably. So, the question lurking now is…how will this be achieved?
'United We Stand' - Just a saying or a way of life?
“United we stand” goes the saying and when it comes to Bankai, unity is not just a way of life, but a killer combination, offering one of the most innovative solutions to address today’s problems of telcos. Over the past 2 decades and more, Bankai group has been building enterprises catering to wholesale voice origination and termination, retail and technology to win this battle on revenue and profitability. With a unique combined offering of wholesale, retail and technology, Bankai group is now embarking on a program to boost revenues for telcos, namely:
• Generate additional traffic from the retail chain CallnRoam through co-branded products and offerings targeting the ethnic communities.
• Generate guaranteed on-net traffic through the wholesale unit to increase margins and regional hubbing traffic to increase revenues.
• Enable technology backbone by providing best-in-class switching, routing and billing (pre/post) platform.
Bankai is probably the only organisation in this space that is able to offer a value-added option. Add to this “low to no” Capex options, the offering gets sweeter for telcos.
About Bankai group
• 22 years in business with interests in wholesale, retail and technology
• Among the top 25 wholesale operators in the world with direct interconnects to more than 80+ operators worldwide and indirect interconnects of more than 2000+, with support for both SIP & TDM based interconnects.
• Among the top 25 wholesale operators in the world with direct interconnects to more than 80+ operators worldwide and indirect interconnects of more than 2000+, with support for both SIP & TDM based interconnects.
•Revenues exceeding US$ 240Mn in 2014 ; among the fastest growing wholesale interconnect carrier companies
• Bankai routed 18+ Billion Minutes in 2014 and this number is growing by 25% year on year ; has the capability to offer both terminating and originating traffic from practically anywhere in the world and open for swap deal & bilaterals.
• Bankai’s 200,000+ strong retail agent network in 48 states of USA offers white-labelled Class-5 services and serves more than 450,000+ subscribers – further strengthen the relations by providing support for launching retail calling card services and also technology required
• Bankai technology division has a strong installed and reference base of solutions around real time wholesale billing/routing, Class-4 & Class-5 soft-switches and Mobile Financial services platform
From father to son – A financial journey
Nov 16 2014 by - Vijay Raghunathan
Sometime in the early 90s
My father walks-in home one evening beaming. Not every day would he return from work in such a tremendous mood, but that particular day was clearly different. He was upbeat about something. As inquisitive children, we wanted to know the reason behind and partake in the happiness. After a lot of prodding, he stylishly fished out a blue card from his wallet. It was gleaming and never have I set my eyes on something like that.
His name was embossed in silver along with a lot of numbers. The ensuing conversation went on like this:
Me : “Dad what is this beautiful thing?”
Dad: “It is a credit card”
Me: “A what card? What is it supposed to do?”
Dad: “This is like money. You can use it in shops. Instead of paying by money, you pay through this card”
Me: “Hmmm, I don’t get it. How can money be inside this card? How will the shop-keeper get the money?”
Dad: “I will show you the next time we go to a shop”
I couldn’t wait until the weekend, when we were to try out the “credit card”. Finally the D-day arrived and the family was well decked up to go out shopping and make our 1st purchase through a credit card. We were pouring over a booklet that came along with the card to find out merchants who accept credit cards in the town. Not many in the town and finally we settled on a clothes merchant.
I was extremely impatient during the shopping exercise and wanted to fast-forward to the payment time. Finally, when it came, the merchant gave a big smile when my dad flashed his credit card (in those days credit cards were reserved for the privileged few and being a government employee my dad was considered as a low-risk proposition for the bank). To add to the drama, the merchant pulled out a black colour machine – one with a sturdy base and a sliding top portion. Credit card was carefully placed in the slot holder, a slip of paper on top of it and then he slid the top portion back & forth. He then removed the paper and all details of the credit card were imprinted with a carbon-copy. Once my dad signed, merchant returned the credit card along with our merchandise with a “Thank you for shopping”. Wow, that was sweet!!! We had purchased clothes without paying a single rupee (of course, it took me some years to finally understand how the industry worked).
Thus, began the journey of mine with credit cards. From such humble beginnings, credit card and its variants have become a part of the lifestyle – credit card had become the preferred option for any transaction.
Now in 2010s
There has been a lot of talk around Mobile Money etc. Since I have credit cards, never really gave a thought to it, apart from academic knowledge. Until, I became a part of the journey. Being a part of the organisation (Panamax) that is working on new technologies and in turn empowering many other organisations in the field of Mobile commerce and financials, I’m now aware of the potential of Mobile Money and allied options.
For the last few months I’ve been around in Panamax, I’ve had the privilege of interacting with many of our customers/partners and peers in the industry. Combining the ubiquitous mobile technology with finance is changing the world order like never before. This, in my view, is going to be the strong differentiator. Here are my key reasons for believing (and also experiencing) that mobile commerce will be a dominant force in the near future:
Whilst, credit cards were reserved for the privileged few (even today not everyone has access to it), mobile money is about financial inclusion of traditionally overlooked societies and providing convenience to the well-to-do strata. Smart phones may be the order of the day, yet, a lot of R&D and innovation goes into feature-phones (e.g., J2ME apps, USSD/SMS based services) to take mobile money to the downtrodden for services like money transfer, merchandise, direct subsidies from governments etc.
Agency banking and bank correspondents with their mobile phones and tablets are doing amazing things which the brick & mortar banks failed to do – taking banks to the poor and not the other way around. This opens up tremendous opportunities for the poor, who now have access to the mainstream financial system through instruments like mBanking, micro finance and micro insurance.
Breaking down barriers and cultural sensitivities. For e.g., NFC tags are used in places where women didn’t feel comfortable to reveal their identities. Such overlooked sections of the society also have access to financial system, at their own comfort and convenience
And yes, I use my mobile for convenience today – utilities payment & mBanking. So, clearly it is exciting times ahead and I’m happy to be in the midst of it all. What will the world look like in 2030s is anybody’s guess and I will leave that story for my next generation.
Top 5 Points African Businesses Must Consider While Procuring Technology Solutions
Oct 02 2014 by - Vijay Krishnan
Africa is one of the fastest growing regions today in the world. After the 2008 global recession when demand for technology products and services in the developed markets went down, technology firms across the world have focused more on Emerging markets like Africa. While this gives African businesses access to technology which helps in their growth, it is important that the technology solutions they are provided with are relevant to the specific needs and requirements of Africa.
Technology Solutions can revolutionize businesses in Africa but there are certain aspects that one needs to keep in mind while procuring technology solutions. Here are the Top 5 aspects to consider:
1. Africa Deployment Experience: – The best proof of a technology vendor understanding the African market and of having the ability to deliver is the vendor having existing deployments in Africa. That means that the vendor has actual on the ground experience of deploying their solution in Africa, and so has gone through the learning curve already (Preferably many times in different deployments in different parts of Africa).
This does not mean that the importance of the vendor’s deployment experience in other markets especially in the developed world goes down. That still is a plus point for the vendor as many companies in the developed markets have a very rigorous vendor selection process and monitor the vendor very closely using strict measures to ensure that they deliver the project. The Africa experience of the vendor is important on top of this, to ensure that the vendor knows how to customize their solution and delivery process to still deliver successfully, despite different infrastructure challenges, unique market dynamics, and work culture in Africa.
2. Regional Focus On Africa: – It is important that the Vendor has a proper Org wide focus on Africa. This is to ensure that the vendor marshals their best resources in terms of technology and people for delivering projects in Africa at the Sales, Deployment, and Post-Deployment stage. That will ensure that the African businesses get the best technology delivered in time and with high quality, and that they continue to get timely technology support for their business. This is important, since the African businesses are already working in tough, dynamic and competitive markets. They would hence want technology and support to be perfect and of highest quality to help their business.
3. Solution Should Overcome Local Infrastructure Challenges:- In some markets in Africa, IT and Network infrastructure challenges could exist and the African Technology buyer might want to use e.g. Open Source Database to keep the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the technology lower. The technology vendor’s solution should be able to work in alignment with these needs. E.g. our company Panamax has a Mobile Finance solution called Mobifin which is deployed in 10 countries in Africa, and it very elegantly handles network downtime and network congestion scenarios. The solution has transaction message queues with a retry mechanism, and also sends timely responses to mobile user to let him/her know status of transaction and to prevent multiple transaction attempts by mobile user etc.
4. Solution Should Be Flexible, Customizable, and Easily Localized: – In many markets in Africa, the regulatory environment is fluid, and so technology solutions should be flexible and customizable to help easily adapt to regulatory changes. Also, many African markets have different languages with their own scripts and also many of the end users cannot read and write, and the technology solutions should be able to address that. That is why our Panamax Telecom and Mobile Finance software solutions are customizable and flexible. Also, our solutions provide Dynamic IVR support to address the market segment which cannot read or write. At Panamax, we have coded our Mobile Finance solution using PHP language to support virtually all language scripts.
5. Solutions Should have viable commercial models: – While opportunity for business growth is huge in Africa, competition is also tough and like with most other emerging markets funds are also scarce. So African businesses need cost effective solutions provided using favourable and flexible commercial models. So technology providers should like our company Panamax does, provide aggressive pricing to customers in Africa along with the flexibility in commercial model of engagement e.g. We provide both the CAPEX/License Model and the OPEX + Revenue Share Model.
Key Aspects Required by the Global Industry for Mobile Finance Technology
Sep 01 2014 by - Vijay Krishnan
Mobile Finance – The Need for Optimized, Flexible Software Solutions Which Cover All Market Segments
Technology is one of the foremost enablers of inclusive growth in societies. The biggest example of this is Mobile Technology unlocking the growth potential of hitherto underdeveloped societies.
In the world of Mobile Technologies, the Mobile Finance area has contributed greatly towards inclusive growth in Emerging markets, by opening up new business and transaction opportunities.
The Mobile Finance industry faces budgetary, regulatory, and infrastructure pressures in emerging markets. They need optimal and flexible software solutions addressing all market segments.
I am listing further below in this blog some key aspects in relation to the above that the industry is looking for in Mobile Finance Software solutions.
Flexible and Customizable Solutions Needed
The Mobile Finance Industry is vulnerable to changes in regulations e.g. a regulator suddenly stipulated that Cash Outs are not allowed. They need a software platform which can be easily customized or changed to continue business while adhering to these regulatory changes.
The requirements of these markets change very fast with entry into newer areas like Power Utilities etc, and with technology changes like frequent launch of new handsets. Additionally, each service provider’s business is unique with specific requirements. They need a software solution which can be custom deployed for them and can be easily changed in a project based approach, rather than a product based approach with a rigid set of features. Cost wise and business operations wise, flexible and customizable solutions deployed using a project based approach is the need of the day.
Another very real requirement in these markets, is the need for local language support and to be able to work with newer industrial domains e.g. Utility companies (Prepaid Electricity, Water etc ). The software solution used by Mobile Finance Service providers should be able to address this. E.g. Code base can be developed using PHP language to support almost every language in the world very easily. Also, it should be able to easily work with newer industrial domain standards and APIs.
Smartphone Support Is Mandatory – But don’t forget the good old Java/J2ME/Symbian Phones
In the target emerging markets Rural/Branchless Banking is a big area of growth in Mobile Finance. A majority of the agents and end customers, have lower end Java/J2ME/Symbian phones. Hence if the
software does not support these low end phones, it beats the very purpose of Rural/Agency Banking. So, mobile finance solutions need to support these low end phones as well.
USSD/SMS Is Still Alive – Very Much in the Mobile Finance World
In many of the Emerging markets where Mobile Finance is growing, broadband coverage has not reached many areas especially rural parts. However, Mobile Finance has potential in these areas,
and hence the software solution should be able to help serve these areas as well. So, every Mobile Software solution should be able to provide USSD and SMS support as well.
Network Quality Could Be Poor – But Don’t Make Mobile Money Customers Poor Due To That !
It is a reality of life in many of the emerging markets, to have poor quality of network connectivity. However, Mobile Money customers don’t want to suffer due to the same.
So Mobile Finance Software Solutions need to necessarily have features like being able to queue transaction related messages when network congestion / downtime happens, and to be able to send
timely and proper messages conveying the same to the mobile user.
Importantly the messaging of the software solution with other systems should be optimized such that bandwidth requirements are less, given poor network quality.
Also Serve the Unfortunate Who Cannot Read and Write
A big scope of Mobile Finance business is to address the rural and urban poor segment of the target markets. Service Providers have to tap into this customer segment, even though some of them
cannot read and write. So, the software solution they use has to have Dynamic IVR Support.
Have Flexible Deployment and Commercial Models
Mobile Service Providers while having a huge potential to grow their revenues and profits, need to first be able to start earning that with limited resources and skills. They also have complex revenue share deals with their end customers. Their technology solution partner can help them in this aspect, by providing flexible deployment models (Onsite Deployment and Remote Hosted Model), and flexible commercial models (CAPEX, and OPEX with Revenue Share). It helps the mobile service provider to be able to better manage their costs, operations, and cash flows.
Be True Technology Partners – Help Service Providers with Skills and Business Ideas
Many of the Mobile Finance Service Providers are not able to afford to have staff with the required skillsets, due to budget constraints or due to non-availability of the same in their market. There is potential for technology partners to help them, using Managed Services to help fill these gaps.
There is huge potential for technology partners to give business ideas to the mobile finance service providers. E.g. we recommended to and helped a Content Provider in West Africa save a lot of the
fees they were paying to the Telcos, by buying and using our Mobifin solution on their own to provide end users with a direct channel to buy their content using mobiles.
We have the fortune of observing the growth of Mobile Finance while working at Panamax Inc, through the deployments across the globe of our world class software solution called Mobifin. The
above listed points are from the actual experience we have gained from this work we have done.