Roamware Acquires Macalla – Industry Investment in Mobile Money for the Unbanked Continues

I’m writing this blog post from Shanghai, where the GSMA Asia Pacific conference is taking place. As delegates were pouring back into the conference hall after the mid morning tea break, I was handed a piece of paper by one of the hostesses – all in Chinese characters except for the words, “Press Release”, ” Roamware”, “Macalla”, “MMT services”.

I didn’t need the English translation to work out that this spells the latest acquisition of a mobile money solution by another technology provider. As its name suggests, Roamware has focused exclusively until now on roaming services, with over 60% market share and 382 operators as customers. The rationale for this acquisition was made very clear by Roamware’s CEO, Bobby Srinivasan: “the move into mobile banking and mCommerce is a natural extension for us as it leverages our customer relationships, business partnerships and technology innovation – banking for the unbanked is a massive market opportunity for Roamware. The Macalla acquisition brings us domain expertise and a proven platform that will enable us to take a leadership position in this emerging category”.

This market move, which demonstrates strong advocacy for the growth and profitability of mobile money for the unbanked, follows a stream of similar announcements this year by technology providers. In the last nine months, we have heard about Sybase 365′s acquisition of Paybox, Nokia’s investment in Obopay, as well as Fundamo’s partnership with Clickatell. And it would be prudent to expect more announcements to unfold as this market continues to develop.

As more and more operators are becoming interested in mobile money, it is encouraging to see that the largest technology players are anticipating and responding to their customer’s needs; which is great for the industry and ultimately the unbanked. Mobile money has rightly earned its place within the portfolios of many dominant players in the market – and this will pave the way for mobile money to arrive onto the handsets of even more unbanked customers around the world.

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