The IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) Mobile VAS 2008 Conference gave an opportunity to mobile VAS providers to address the issue of basic network connectivity and how it affected their services. The day-long conference touched upon numerous possibilities in the burgeoning mobile space in the country, which were elucidated with some international and domestic examples.
A panel discussion on the use of mobile phone as a tool for commerce by consumers on the move also discussed at length the need for mobile service providers to improve their basic telephony services. The panel, moderated by Sanjay Aggarwal, GM-Operations, IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation), discussed the various modes of commerce used in the mobile space currently in India along with its advantages and disadvantages.
Aggarwal noted that the number of credit card payments on IRCTC’s rail ticket booking was higher than Net banking and cash cards, with the latter surprisingly finding more preference than online banking.
He said, “Statistics available with us show that people are opting for cash cards for their transactions rather than Net banking on our site, while credit cards still continue to rule the space. Even after selling 2.2 million tickets online in February alone, and with over 6 million registered users, we are contributing to only 15 per cent of the total ticketing revenue earned by the Indian Railways.”
“We managed to sell just 921 tickets in February through mobile ticketing. This shows how much mobile commerce penetration we have in the country. The issues with mobile ticketing are several with payment system being the most important. The instability of network creates a major issue for payment thus, dissuading users from using mobile phones as an m-commerce tool. The service provided by telecom operators has to improve for the penetration of VAS to improve,” Aggarwal stressed.
Agreeing with him, Amitabh Pandey, President and Head eBusiness, Thomas Cook, cited an example of a killer mobile application that they had developed which did not give any returns to the company.
The other panel discussions during the day dealt with varied topics such as the need for generating user awareness for VAS offerings, mobile positioning and location based service, enterprise solution and mobile marketing space.
The final panel discussion gave insights on the growth of the mobile entertainment space and the challenges facing the ‘next biggest medium’. The panelist included Viren Popli, VP & Head, Mobile Entertainment, Star TV; Rajjat Barjatya, MD, Rajshri Media; Jagdish Mitra, CEO, CanvasM Technologies; Bruno Goveas, Head Marketing & Product Management (India), Akamai Technologies; Rajiv Hiranandani, Country Manager, Mobile2winl, and, Anshuman Pratap Chaudhary, CP - Business Development, Cellcast Interactive.