Archives for posts with tag: Kim Fraser

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Kim Fraser CEO

MMIT is happy to announce the promotion of Mr. Kim Fraser from COO to CEO. Mr. Fraser brings over 21 years of telecommunications experience, covering executive, business and operational management, and core network engineering. Mr. Fraser’s expertise covers business operations, market strategies, business plan development, funding, network planning and dimensioning, implementation, and technical operations for the telecom industry. A Canadian native, he has been working in the Sub-Saharan African region since 2001.

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Tokunbo Osilowo CFO

MMIT is pleased to announce the addition of Mr. Tokunbo Osilowo as our new CFO. Mr. Osilowo is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors USA. Mr. Osilowo’s professional career began at KPMG, where he serviced numerous clients in the areas of accountancy consultancy, tax consultancy and auditing of financial statements. Tokunbo was appointed by the former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor as executive director of Intercontinental Bank, where he facilitated a billion dollar merger between Intercontinental Bank and Access Bank.

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Abdul Ojomu Managing Director UK

MMIT is also happy to announce the addition of Mr. Abdul Ojomu as the Managing Director for MMIT’s UK office. Mr. Ojomu has worked in the IT and telecoms sector for over 12 years. Abdul has substantial experience in the UK public and private sectors and has significant commercial and international experience in both West and East Africa. Abdul has held various senior roles at both strategic and tactical levels as a business analyst, including business development, product and service development, and has managed business pipeline portfolios.

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When we think of the potential for a cashless society we tend to look at the developed World and markets such as the United States or Europe as the places most likely for this development.  Even with credit cards and smart phones being ubiquitous throughout these countries you would be wise to look to emerging markets as the potential birthplace of a future cashless society.

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Mobile technology is growing and more than 1.7 billion people have cell phones but no bank accounts in emerging and developing markets.  According to the GMSA in 2012 there were123 mobile-money deployments in emerging markets, with 84 of them originating within the last 3 years.  Mobile money has the ability to offer financial services to the unbanked and reach consumers in the remotest parts of the World.  Even with the potential there is still a long way to go and Nigeria is a great example of this.Image

One of the emerging countries leading the cashless society initiative is Nigeria.  The cashless initiative in Nigeria is in its early stages.  The Central Bank of Nigeria, or CBN, has estimated that it will cost over $930 million to invest in new POS terminals, ATM’s, and payment solutions by 2015 as part of its “Cash-Less Lagos Project”.  Recently the CBN announced 40 billion Naira per day is being transacted virtually and the bulk of these transactions are being conducted in Lagos.

Initially CBN was targeting a phased approach post-pilot in Lagos State and then moving to a second phase which CBN claimed would cover close to 90% of all financial transactions in the country.  Due to the success of the Lagos Pilot CBN decided to implement the cashless push nationwide.  One of the stumbling blocks was the lack of infrastructure to facilitate cashless transactions conveniently and relatively close to the population. Kim Fraser, COO of MMIT, commented on the problems with the pilot program in Nigeria.  “In the Lagos Pilot there were only 10,000 POS systems on the ground in Lagos State.   Today there are over 150,000 POS systems deployed. It is still a small number to cover a country as large as Nigeria.  In addition the CBN has also realized that the term “Cashless” was scaring a lot of people especially in a country where 80% of the population is unbanked. The new catch phrase that the CBN prefers is “Cashlite”. There is still a significant way to go even under the new mantra of Cashlite though CBN appears to be making progress”.

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The debate for a cashless society has its positives and negatives.  For financial institutions a positive development of a cashless society is its ability to reduce costs required to print money and increase its consumer base and services to include the non-banked of the emerging and developing World.  For consumers there is an ease for transactions and the prospect of no longer having to carry cash.  Carrying cash can be a major problem in emerging countries where the risk of being robbed is greater. There is also potential for less corruption and more transparency in a cashless society.

The negatives include the invasion of privacy; security and fraud, and the wide divergence in the experience of mobile money service providers around the world.  There are some obvious hurdles that are slowing the progress of a cashless society including the lack of infrastructure, scalability, and the sustainability of mobile financial services.  So what does this mean for telecom and financial institutions?  It means there exists opportunities for the continued development of new financial products and greater customer education for their products.  If the telecom providers and financial institutions can create a healthy relationship with each other and with their consumer bases there can be continued growth and success for mobile money and other cashless initiatives.

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Today is the last day of the MWC and I plan to spend my day taking a serious look at the Apps/Payment space in hall 7. On the first day it took me 1 ½ hours by taxi to get from my hotel to the MWC Convention Hall.  I was under the assumption that taxis and traffic were normal here in Barcelona but I can now say that may not be the case.  It appears the bottleneck from the first day was the result of the Real Madrid-Barcelona football match that started about one hour after the closing of the MWC exhibition Hall.

I now have had two days at this event and I am not so sure Mobile World Congress is the right moniker any longer.   Possibly the Digital World Congress or the Connected World Congress describes what is happening in the convergence of information, applications and telecommunications.  Near Field Communication, or NFC,  is at the front and center with a number of outlets that are NFC enabled.  The event registration was NFC enabled and approximately 270 restaurants/retail outlets are also NFC enabled for this event.

The mobile phone is becoming a standard piece of equipment that is vital for todays interconnected on the go World.  Entertainment, audio video, mobile TV, work, navigation, payments, cloud access, presentations on the fly (Windows 8 phones), emergencies, security, etc.  It seems there is no part of our daily lives that is not influenced by mobile technology. The three traditional screens, the PC, TV, and mobile are definitely merging into one seamless experience.  Gone are the days when the focus was on the the latest radio access network innovation, or advances in the core network.   That’s in the background now.  In 2013 it’s all about user experience and winning subscribers/users by focusing on the user experience.

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Kim Fraser is the COO of MMIT, a mobile software developer in Lagos, Nigeria.  Kim has over twenty years of experience in the telecommunications industry and has worked for telecommunication companies in Canada, West Africa, and East Africa.  Kim can be contacted at kim.f@mmitonline.com.

My name is Kim Fraser and I am the Chief Operations Officer for MMIT, Mobile Media Info Tech.  We are a mobile software development company based out of Lagos, Nigeria but with offices in the US and UK.  I am Canadian by birth and citizenship and I started my career as a telecom operator in Canada for 18 years before I made the move to Africa.  I had worked briefly in East Africa in the early 90’s so I was familiar with the continent and life and business on the continent.  I was working for Nortel Networks in 2000 and was assigned to a project for Nortel based in Nigeria.  Shortly after starting work in Nigeria Nortel faced some economic hardships and I was let go. I continued to travel to Nigeria and eventually I was asked to come back to the Nigerian project as a contractor.

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Once I completed my contract in Nigeria I realized there were plenty of opportunities in the telecom space in Africa and I decided to continue working and living in Africa.  I was ready for the environment and the challenges of working and doing business in Africa. The challenges of living and working in this environment are many and varied but it is these very challenges which make living and working here so interesting. Though I admit it is likely not for everyone, if you like rolling up your sleeves and are willing to take on roles you never thought you would find your self in, it may be the right place for you.

The challenges in such an environment are quite varied from lack of infrastructure, lack of power, lack of connectivity (broadband), and transportation.  Business done in this environment has a short term mentality.  Its get what you can today as tomorrow may never come!  There is a relaxed attitude towards time and appointments, endemic corruption and so on. It takes time to get ones feet wet in such an environment, but the rewards can be quite fulfilling once one has learned to navigate the pitfalls. Most things here are never quite what they seem and it is important to understand this and realize that one need to dig deeper to understand the underlying drivers and motivations of the people one is dealing with. As they say in poker keep your cards close to your chest!

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Kim Fraser – COO MMIT

Kim will be attending the Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona, Spain from February 25-28th.  Kim is available for networking and business opportunities and if you would like to contact Kim or find out more about MMIT and what we are doing in Nigeria and Africa please contact Kim at Kim.f@mmitonline.com or visit us at http://www.mmitonline.com.

MMIT COO – Kim Fraser will be a guest speaker at The Social Mobile Payments Conference taking place from November 6-8th at the Marriot Biscayne Bay in beautiful Miami, Florida.  Kim will share his expertise and knowledge and talk about the mobile payment revolution taking place in Africa.  Other speakers at this event include representatives from Amdocs, Digital River, MoPay, PayTap, Visa, Mobile Payments Today, to name a few.  For more information on this event please visit http://www.socialmobilepayments.com and for more information about Kim and MMIT please visit http://www.mmitonline.com.

MMIT COO – Kim Fraser

Today in Africa more people have access to mobile phones than to electricity. In Nigeria it was recently announced that the number of active subscribers had reached approximately 105 million.  In Sub Saharan Africa the mobile phone revolution has been under way for 11 years and has had a significant impact in the region significantly improving the population’s ability to communicate remotely for business and maintaining relationships with family and friends.

A significant offshoot of the rapid growth of mobile communications in Sub Saharan Africa is the direct secondary economic activity it has created.  The mobile infrastructure from selling airtime to roadside business centres for making phone calls has created an economic buzz to underdeveloped regions. Another informal activity which developed and demonstrates the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the people in Sub Saharan Africa is the use of prepaid airtime cards to informally send small amounts of money to family, friends and others.  Prepaid Airtime recharge cards are available everywhere, from vendors selling in the traffic during rush hour, to road side kiosks and retail shops.  Senders purchase airtime cards worth the value they wish to send to the beneficiary via an SMS allocated with PIN numbers.  The receiver then sells the airtime and collects cash in a simple and effective manner.  It doesn’t require any additional technology layers to function as long as agents are in place.

This informal money transfer arrangement has been going on long before Mpesa was launched and the banks decided it was a good idea to get involved in mobile money. This informal system works every where there is mobile coverage, is simple and carries little risk.  Innovation is a necessity in Africa and one does not have to look far to find numerous examples of how people innovate and improvise to overcome the many challenges found in this environment. So it is no surprise that Africa is a leader in innovation when it comes to mobile money and transactions via mobile networks and in the online space.

The highest users of mobile money are in Africa.  To many in North America or Europe this may come as a surprise, but for someone who has witnessed the astounding growth in mobile communications in Sub Saharan Africa and the transformation it has fostered, it is not so surprising. Mobile Money is projected to be a $615 billion a year industry by 2016 according to the Gartner Group. Today 80% of mobile money transactions worldwide take place in Kenya, with MPesa reportedly handling $20 million of transactions per day.

Africa has been the continent with the fastest growth in mobile subscriptions over the past 5 years. Today there are almost 700 million active lines on the continent. Mpesa is a resounding success in Kenya.  In Nigeria more people now access the internet from the small screen (mobile phones) than pcs, laptops and tablets. Africa has adopted mobile communications completely and is the mobile continent from a telecommunications perspective.   Africa is poised to change the way we think of financial services and blaze a trail in financial access innovation.  East Africa currently leads the way with products such as Jipange KuSave, M-Kopa, Kilimo Salama, Ipay, Lipisha, PesaPal, CrowdPesa products built on the M-PESA infrastructure and other Mobile money aggregators such as Mobipay, E-Fulusi, and YuCash.

Mobile money is a business/service, which suits Africa and its people. It is low cost from an investment and operational perspective, leverages ubiquitous infrastructure already widespread and highly accepted, taps into a growing pool of young tech-savy entrepreneurs high on innovation and eager to improve conditions in their home environments and demonstrate their capability to the world.  In the mobile money revolution Africa is leading the world!

Kim Fraser will be a guest speaker at The Social Mobile Payments: Americas! Conference being held November 6-8th at the Miami Marriot Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida.  Kim will be representing MMIT and will be discussing the mobile payments revolution that is taking place in Africa.  For more info please visit http://www.mmitonline.com or http://www.socialmobilepayments.com.

In the Western World the idea of mobile banking/payments starts with our smartphones.  Our chief concern usually centers around privacy and security.  In the emerging World, especially Africa, mobile banking/payments are quite different and the concerns are quite different as well.  I recently talked to MMIT COO – Kim Fraser about the unique concerns and problems that face mobile wallet users in Africa:

AB: First of all thank you for taking the time today to meet with me Mr. Fraser.  I was hoping you could elaborate on the issues faced by mobile wallet users in Africa?

Kim: Thank you, and yes I can definitely speak on that.  In the west traditional banking services are universally accessible to a majority of the population through the use of ATMs, credit cards and debit cards. In Africa and other emerging markets banking services are not so universally widespread and accessible to the majority of the population. This is due to a number of factors such as the high cost of brick and mortar establishments, account opening criteria with the need for credible references, and relatively high initial deposit requirements, minimal balances, high transactional fees, cash based salary payment for many low end wage earners, etc.

In the west most mobile wallets or mobile phone banking products are based on the use of credit cards, and debit cards. They store the users card details on the phone. In developed markets most users of mobile phone technology are aware of the constant problem of identity theft in the mobile phone industry and the underground business that surrounds this activity such as illegal phone shops. Thus many view this as a security issue and an avenue for the theft of their financial details and the impending havoc it can create in ones life.

In Africa and the emerging markets with high rates of poverty the percentage of the population that is banked and using credit cards and debit cards is very small. Mobile banking in its original state, as introduced in Kenya by Safaricom (M-pesa), was not intended to target the banked but the unbanked, those that have no bank account, and no credit facilities. In this market segment the issues around adoption are different. Security is a concern but it does not revolve around identity theft but instead around the risk of carrying physical cash as opposed to carrying virtual cash, which is seen as safer. Also transaction fees for mobile banking are lower than brick and mortar banking fees, there are no minimal account balance barriers, and signing up for a mobile wallet/ bank account normally doesn’t require two reputable references that are already clients.  All it requires is a photo ID, and your phone number, and can be done at any of the mobile banking agent outlets.  Today there are 30,000 M-pesa agent outlets in Kenya and everywhere there is mobile phone service.

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AB: So really the perspective is totally different in Africa than in the West?

Kim: Yes, in Africa and other emerging markets most of the population perceive such services from a totally different perspective than in the west.  It is a game changer and an enabler not a convenience factor such as is the case in the west, where a larger percentage of the population carry smart phones and have credit, debit and ATM cards.

AB: Thank you Kim for your time and knowledge and remember you can follow Kim and MMIT at http://www.mmitonline.com.

MMIT COO – Kim Fraser

Companies MMIT and Bango recently went into a partnership to change the face of online and mobile payment in Nigeria and Africa by introducing M-Content. M-Content will enable online and mobile payments for goods and services offered on international social commerce websites. ABN and CNBC Africa’s Keisha Gitari met with MMIT COO Kim Fraser to find out more.

To watch the entire interview please view at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imaN7QIdG0c

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AB: Could you tell us a little about yourself, your experience in the mobile banking and payment industry, how you ended up in Nigeria, and your relationship with MMIT?

Kim:  I am a telecoms professional who handles technical as well as business management. I am originally from Saskatchewan, Canada and I started my relationship with Nigeria in the year 2000 in the early stages of deregulation of the Nigerian Telecom Sector. By late 2001 I was working full time in Nigeria.  I have held senior roles covering GM network planning to CTO and CEO/ MD for tier 2 Telecom Service providers in Nigeria.

I am relatively new to the mobile banking / online transaction space and have been steadily gaining knowledge from my colleagues currently engaged in this fast paced segment of the banking and telecom industry. I was recruited by MMIT to join the organization as the COO to assist with getting the organization up and running, developing structure, and insuring day to day activities are properly managed as well as to leverage my 10 years of experience within the Nigerian Telecom sector to the benefit of MMIT and its stake holders.

AB: In your opinion what are the main challenges one faces working in an emerging market environment like Nigeria?

Kim: Emerging markets are unique in that there are often major infrastructure challenges from transport to electrical supply to appropriate ICT infrastructure for business in general ,

In addition markets such as Nigeria are still cash based so there is an adoption hurdle to overcome in order to push services such as mobile banking to a large segment of the population. Through having been in Nigeria for over 10 years I have witnessed first hand how rapidly technology is adopted in this market provided the access is there, and the benefits to ones daily life are clearly communicated and understood.

AB: What features allow MMIT to differentiate itself from others in the mobile banking and payment industry in Africa?

Kim: MMIT has developed its product suite around the challenges currently faced by credit card, debit card, and Mobile Wallet users face when trying to engage in electronic transactions whether it is sending and receiving funds, or trying to purchase content or merchandise online via the traditional methods mentioned above.  With MMIT as long as your electronic wallet is appropriately funded, online transactions for content or merchandise will not be rejected.

In respect to funds transfer MMIT has created an ecosystem which provides convenient access to users of this service for sending and receiving of funds. This has been accomplished through strategic partnerships within local and international markets to insure it is as easy as buying a lottery ticket or airtime top-up from local shops.

MMIT also understands the need for its payment solutions to work in the context of the local environment, while at the same time offering a first class experience in respect to the range of merchants and content stores users of its products have access to.  The founders of MMIT have put in considerable effort in this area and are still pushing to enhance the reach of our content and merchant ecosystem.

AB:  How much are the big market players, such as Google and large banks like Barclays and Bank of America, threats to smaller niche providers like MMIT?  Are these bigger market players gaining ground in Nigeria and Africa?

Kim: In Nigeria large players such as Google and Barclays are not entrenched or even on the radar screen.  This is in part due to the make up of the Nigerian Banking sector which has not been dominated by large international banking institutions such as one sees in east Africa and perhaps other Sub-Saharan African countries. As well there does seem to be a tendency for large international players to want to push products they developed for maturity into well developed markets such as Europe and North America rather than into the emerging market space with out looking at the peculiar nature of such markets and whether the product will serve the needs of those it is intended for.  So for now we do not see any major push for the major international players to penetrate Nigeria’s market in any significant manor.

Thank you for your time Kim.  Kim will be appearing on CNBC Africa tomorrow at 5:30 PM West African Time.  Kim can be contacted at kim.f@mmitonline.com.

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Kim Fraser – COO MMIT

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CNBC Africa correspondent Keisha Gitari recently sat down and spoke with MMIT COO Kim Fraser about the exciting things taking place at MMIT and the official launch of MMIT’s M-content software in November 2012.  If you can please watch the interview this Tuesday 09/11 at 5:30 PM local time.

Kim with CNBC’s Keisha Gitari