Telenor to Storm into Mobile Financial Services Sector

Telenor Group which owns the majority stakes in Bangladesh’s largest telecommunication company Grameenphone, is aiming to get a stronger footing in the country’s mobile financial services landscape. After telecommunications Telenor Group is aiming to become the regional market leader in the mobile financial service sector.

Tine Wollebekk, Telenor’s Head of Financial Services said, “We have an ambition to become the market leader in Asia in mobile financial services“. Telenor believes mobile financial services will act as a catalyst in helping to connect a large number of people in much of the developing countries. Their vision is not merely to earn money by boosting financial services, but serving the poor people of the country as a part of their corporate social responsibility. To reach that goal the global telecom service provider is looking to introduce new mobile financial service models.

Wollebekk said, “We are now looking for different models to to reach more people who have no access to cash machines or bank branches. We want to make the entire mobile financial service platform more accessible to the more under-served remote population in the developing countries.”

To explore the market opportunities in Bangladesh, Tine Wollebekk will be visiting Dhaka, next month. She will be looking into the operations of “Mobicash”, a mobile financial service operated by one of Telenor’s largest subsidiary. Grameenphone had launched “Mobicash” in 2007, and up until now it has dealt with Tk 780 crore in transactions and Tk 65 lakh in utility bills. Grameenphone with its large subscriber base has enough opportunity to bring more and more people under its umbrella, as it has taken its network coverage to every corners of the country. Less than a quarter of the country’s total population use regular banking system for their monetary transactions. Telenor is hoping to work more closely with banks, financial institutions and relevant authorities to boost their mobile financial service platform.

Citing the example of traditional banking system, Wollebekk said that, it takes two to seven days for bank accounts to become functional. However, mobile operators can complete the registration process more quickly, as a result the user account can be accessed for transaction within hours.

Wollebekk said, “We have partnerships with six local banks in Bangladesh. But we need to think more in partnership with banks, as they will be benefited.” She also added that Telenor has the ability to handle large volume of customer transactions at a much lower cost. According to Wollebekk, formal economy and financial institutions specially banks can grow by increasing mobile financial services in the society. Wollebekk said, “We are working with banks to get a better model to increase the mobile financial services and I am very encouraged that the regulators and banks are willing to form partnerships with us to roll out mobile money services.”

Apart from Bangladesh, Telenor has also a strong and growing footprint in mobile financial services area in other Asian countries such as Pakistan. Launched in 2009, Easypaisa scheme in Pakistan has handled more than $4.2 billion in customer transactions last year. Telenor also runs a similar scheme in Thailand and they are planning to implement such a scheme in their newest market-Myanmar. With their operations in six different countries in Asia, Telenor is the only European telecommunication company that reaches across the region and has more than 16 crore subscribers.


Mustafizur Rahman Khan