Mobile Financial Services (MFS) in Europe have grown rapidly over the last five years, due to the proliferation of mobile applications and relatively high smartphone penetration, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
European banks, retail firms, and technology companies have dominated MFS growth in Europe; however, telcos are slowly entering the market. According to GlobalData’s latest report: ‘Mobile Financial Services Market Opportunities for Telcos in Europe’, telcos may find it challenging to enter the European market, particularly in high-income countries, due to a higher preference for traditional cash and card payment facilities.
Telecom operators also face intense competition in the market with tech companies (Google Pay) and mobile device manufacturers (Samsung Pay and Apple Pay) offering their own MFS solutions. Despite these challenges, European telcos are exploring new opportunities and expanding their MFS portfolio with services like savings, credit, insurance, and international remittances, in-partnership with local financial institutions. Telekom Romania for example, partnered with Alior Bank to offer savings and current account, debit card, and micro-finance services such as personal loans and overdraft facilities.
Jonathan Bachrach, Senior Technology Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Historically, European banks, retailers, and technology companies have been at the forefront of MFS, with telcos entering the MFS segment by offering m-wallet services as a means to create new revenue generation streams, aside from traditional telecoms services. “In the past two years, European telcos have also been expanding into mobile banking through white-labels/banking-as-a-service, partnerships or even develop their own banking institutions, such as Orange (throughout its footprint) and Russian telcos MTS and Beeline.”
Key market drivers enabling telcos to capture market opportunities includes high rate of mobile services as well as smartphone penetration. A preference of OTT-based mobile payment solutions such as Apple Pay and a population which favors using traditional cash and card transactions inhibits telcos’ ability to tap into MFS growth.