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Fundamo boosts retail and financial services with mobility
10 February 2004

Retail and financial services have been given a dramatic boost beyond conventional point-of-sale (POS) and scanning technologies with the introduction of mobile commerce.

The successful deployment of mobile e-commerce has enabled secure financial transactions to be effected via mobile phone, revolutionising aspects of the retail sector and making convenient payment easier for customers.

The technology, designed by South African banking and m-commerce software company Fundamo and already deployed by companies in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the DRC, has shifted Africa into the world of realtime financial mobility.

Transactions are conducted via the GSM network and payments are effected immediately.

"The mobility this technology allows broadens the reach of retail into remote areas of GMS coverage so it is no longer reliant on traditional electronic POS for transactions," says Hannes van Rensburg, CEO of Fundamo.

m-Payments have a host of advantages over conventional POS and cash transactions. Cash is problematic, not only for financial traceability in banking institutions, but also for the average person on the street. Mobile transactions offer immediacy - transfers are made in realtime; security - cash can be stolen or lost; convenience - geographic locality is irrelevant so long as there is GSM coverage; efficiency - no more queuing to pay bills; cost - transactions are conducted via SMS; and mobility - transactions can also be conducted between individuals, transferring funds directly from one bank account to another.

The design of the Fundamo platform enables the consolidation and deployment of retail services, providing the retailer with a single point of delivery from which all conventional payment services, such as third-party payments, pre-paid services, financial services and banking, credit and debit card payments and cheque verification, can be taken care of.

"The technology provides an integrating platform that acts as the consolidating middleware environment ensuring connectivity between the payment device (either GSM, POS or Internet), the back-end service and the bank," says Van Rensburg.

It enables retail outlets to quickly and easily deploy additional services designed around promotions and special offers using the technology as a central point for immediacy, flexibility and dynamic marketing.

Virtual retail is also supported and the same platform used at POS can process the same retail services off the Internet or mobile POS devices during door-to-door deliveries if the customer wishes to make additional purchases or payments.

Security remains fundamental in transactions - the underlying engine is a banking engine and the end-to-end transaction from device to bank is secure.

Van Rensburg believes the technology shapes a natural evolutionary growth path for financial products. "It provides a platform that enables retailers to start using technology for basic transactions such as pre-paid services, progress to bill payments and ultimately move into offering financial service payments without having to overhaul expensive technological solutions to suit their evolving business strategies," he says.

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