The mobile payment service works through the power of SMS and USSD messages, as only 10 per cent of Iranians own smart phones. As of February 2013, Iran has 130 per cent mobile penetration rate making it a lucrative market and the highest mobile penetrated country in the Middle East.
More than 100 million SMS's are sent every day in Iran and over three billion minutes of talk time is made per day.
Naturally Fanap’s mPaad works on any kind of mobile device through USSD and SMS, while the earlier smartphone app by Fanap only runs on Java and Android based mobile phones. mPaad helps users manage their mobile wallet even if they don't have the luxury of a smart phone device.
mPaad capitalises on the Iranian culture of aiding the less privileged and disaster affected by allowing users to donate money to their causes easily wherever they are. It also allows users to top up their phone on the go with little effort – something which is key in the region as most mobile users make use of pre-paid contract based phones.
mPaad also offers other secure low-value payments and transfers including bill payments, online metro, bus and air travel tickets. You can even buy electronics and home appliances through the mobile payment system Fanap implemented.
For those wondering exactly how it all works, Fanap partnered with two of Iran's largest mobile network operators: MTN and Rightel – the latter being the first operator to offer 3G in Iran. Thanks to this it's easy to reach the four million users they've secured since 2012, and for customers to make on an average 500,000 low-value transactions each day.
Through the use of USSD pins, money can be sent efficiently. One such example comes in the form of aiding the Azerbaijani earthquake victims in August 2012, whereby a simple code entered through mPaad allowed people to send money to the affected victims within seconds.
It may still well be early days for Fanap's mobile payment solution mPaad, but if it continues on this way it could easily grow into a mobile powerhouse within Iran and the Middle East.
Do you think there's a viable future in mobile payments?
Was it the right move in supplying a USSD version of mPaad for non-smartphone customers?
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The payments landscape is changing drastically and no regions are evolving faster than those in Africa and the Middle East. To keep up with the changing space pay attention to Cards & Payments Africa 2013 and Cards & Payments Middle East 2013. You can download the brochure for both here and here respectively.
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International Business Developer
Banking Solutions Department