MasterCard is going to launch its P2P mobile remittance platform for issuers in the US later this month. MasterCard has partnered with The Bancorp Bank for this launch and worked with US mobile payments services provider Obopay to add a mobile channel to its money transfer platform MoneySend. In a first phase, consumers will be able to use MoneySend with a MasterCard prepaid card issued by The Bancorp Bank and link it to their mobile phone number to send or receive money. Banks who will use the platform will enable customers who register for MoneySend to use it with their everyday accounts, including MasterCard debit, credit, prepaid or checking, as determined by their issuer. The platform enables users to send and receive funds via SMS message, mobile web browser or a downloadable MoneySend application. Upon the initiation of the transfer, the sender approves the request by entering the MoneySend mobile PIN which is only known by the accountholder. Subsequently, the recipient receives a text message confirmation of the transfer (for pre-registered users) or that the transfer is pending (for yet to be registered users). The funds can then be accessed by the recipient through an account designated during the registration process. Initially, this will be a prepaid account with The Bancorp Bank. These funds are then available for access through the mobile phone. If the consumer has a MasterCard card associated with the account the funds can also be accessed at traditional points of interaction, including ATMs, over-the-counter at a bank branch, or at the point-of-sale.
Turkey’s leading mobile operator by subscribers, Turkcell, has reported revenues of USD1.28 billion for the first quarter of 2009, an 18.5% year-on-year decline attributed by the cellco to depreciation of the Turkish lira against the US dollar. EBITDA for the three months ended 31 March fell by 18.2% to USD472 million, compared to USD577 million in the same period a year earlier. Net income was down 29.3% to USD344.2 million from USD486.8 million in 1Q 2008. ‘I am very pleased that Turkcell’s technology leadership, improved efficiency and customer focus resulted in solid financial results in the first quarter of 2009 despite the global economic downturn,’ Turkcell CEO Sureyya Ciliv said, ‘We plan to build on our strengths in technology, efficiency, and customer service. We are particularly excited about launching 3G services in Turkey within three months.’ The company added 1.3 million net new customers in the quarter, with 36.4 million users at the end of March.
French mobile operator Bouygues Telecom posted a 6% increase in sales for the three months to 31 March 2009 on the back of solid subscriber growth. Sales from network services grew 5% year-on-year to EUR1.175 billion (USD1.603 billion), including a EUR9 million contribution from its fixed line business, it said. Bouygues added a net 144,000 new mobile customers in the first quarter of 2009, compared with 51,000 in the first quarter of 2008. As at 31 March 2009, Bouygues Telecom’s cellular user base totalled 9.739 million, of which 7.348 million were on post-paid contracts — 75.5% of the total customer base — a year-on-year increase of 1.7 percentage points.
Chilean telecoms regulator Subtel has extended the date for receiving and opening bids for 3G licences by five days, to 20 July writes BNamericas citing Subtel. The long-anticipated auction of UMTS concessions was launched in April, with bidding rules on sale until 30 June. In accordance with a Supreme Court ruling on 27 January, existing wireless players can participate in the spectrum auction, but if any company surpasses the 60MHz limit it is obliged to return some of its spectrum in other bands to the state. The three existing operators in the country are at or close to the limit: Entel PCS already has 60MHz, while Movistar and Claro have 55MHz each. Subtel has expressed that the intention of this measure is to allow a fourth operator to enter the market and focus expressly on offering 3G services.
Motorola has announced that it has signed a one-year frame agreement with China Mobile Communications Corporation (CMCC) to provide wireless equipment and services. The frame agreement’s projected shipment and services value is estimated to be USD310 million. Under the deal Motorola will supply GSM/GPRS/EDGE infrastructure and related services in various markets already served by its radio infrastructure equipment. The kit will be used by China Mobile to provide voice and data capacity and will ensure interoperability between the cellco’s GSM and TD-SCDMA networks. ‘Motorola has worked with China Mobile for more than 20 years,’ said Dr. Mohammad Akhtar, vice president and general manager of Home and Networks Mobility, Motorola China. ‘As a long-term strategic partner of China Mobile, Motorola is proud to continue being a part of its growth. Motorola has always been an innovator and pioneer in the mobile telecoms industry. With the comprehensive end-to-end portfolio that covers 2G, 3G and LTE, Motorola stands ready to support China Mobile in building a state-of-the-art network that maximises investments and delivers the most appealing communications experiences to its end users at home and on-the-go.’
British ad-funded mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Blyk has refuted claims that it is planning to discontinue its commercial retail services, Mobile Marketing Magazine reports. Blyk was responding to reports by another UK-based media outlet that said the operator was preparing the closure of its direct-to-consumer business in order to focus on operator partnerships. It is understood, however, that rather than exiting the consumer space, the MVNO plans to add a partnership model. A Blyk spokesperson, Ann Sarimo, was quoted as saying: ‘We are not closing shop. We are actively expanding, and we are in negotiations with partners right now. Our members are our core asset. Our total proposition is partly based on the advertising side of things, but it’s also about the whole user experience and audience management. We are not just a technology solution, we are a total mobile marketing solution, based in part on the advertising and messaging component, but it’s very much about a total experience and an audience of happy, engaged users.’
While Blyk originally offered 16-24 year olds 217 free texts and 43 minutes of free talk time each month in return for accepting targeted advertising on their phone each day, the company did change its model in January 2009. It now offers its customers GBP15 (USD22.8) free credit per month which can be used for either text messaging or voice calls.
Clearwire, the US wireless broadband operator 51% owned by Sprint Nextel, has reported a narrowing of first-quarter losses to USD71.06 million, compared to a pro forma loss of USD76.44 million a year earlier (before Sprint and Clearwire unveiled their USD12 billion partnership to combine their planned nationwide mobile WiMAX networks). Revenue in the three months to the end of March 2009 rose 21% year-on-year to USD62.1 million. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Clearwire provides broadband internet services in at least 50 markets nationwide via fixed wireless networks which utilise a combination of pre-WiMAX and true 802.16e mobile WiMAX technologies. Clearwire, which has so far launched commercial WiMAX in Baltimore and Portland, Oregon, reported that it added 25,000 subscribers in the first quarter, bringing its total base to 500,000 (up 57,000 year-on-year). The firm expects to add 802.16e networks in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Honolulu, Philadelphia and Seattle during 2009. The company said yesterday that it still plans to expand its ‘Clear 4G’ WiMAX service to 80 markets covering a potential 120 million customers by the end of 2010 but the plan could be altered depending on the availability of capital.
Also announced yesterday, Clearwire has selected Cisco as its national core infrastructure provider as it expands mobile WiMAX network coverage across the US. Clearwire’s all-IP network will be upgraded and extended under the deal, whilst separately, Cisco is also planning to move into the mobile WiMAX terminal device manufacturing market this year.