Etisalat yesterday repeated last year’s success at the most important annual gathering of the telecommunications industry by winning a major award for innovation.
The Middle East’s leading telecommunications operator won in the “Best Near Field Communication/Mobile Money Product” category at the GSMA’s Global Mobile Awards 2013 during the Mobile World Congress being held in Barcelona, Spain, from February 25 to 28, adding to three awards from the industry’s most prestigious competition last year.
“It’s tremendous to be recognisedin this way at the most important event in the global telecoms calendar,” said Ahmad AbdulkarimJulfar, the Chief Executive Officer at Etisalat Group – who heads a delegation from 15 countries and three continents. “Giving communities the technology that enables their economies – and therefore societies – to progress is one of our core missions and winning this awardis a sign that we’re on the right track.”
The winning product, Etisalat Commerce Programme – Flous, is an application for conducting a variety of financial transactions with a mobile device. It was also nominated for a prize in the “Most Innovative Mobile Application” category. “Flous” is Arabic for “money”.
Mr Julfar added: “This award will motivate us to keep to keep innovating and introducing products that give entrepreneurs the tools they need to achieve their goals anywhere in the world.”
Flous brings together a wealth of services – varying from market to market – for customers and businessmenwho like to take care of their finances on the move. The mix of services available includes utility, merchant and salary payments, domestic and international transfers, online purchasing, cash collection, bank transactions and ticketing.
Flous was developed in partnership with MasterCard and Oberthur Technologies and since 2012, it has been commercially available across a number of Etisalat countries.
“We are extremely proud of Etisalat’s Global Mobile Awards win at the Mobile World Congress”, said Michael Miebach, President, MasterCard Middle East and Africa. “Solid successful partnerships with leading regional telecoms operators in one of the fastest growing regions in the world enable us to quickly take mobile money applications such as this to higher altitudes. This in turn will help us achieve our goals of making everyday payments easier, safer and more convenient for individuals and merchants everywhere.”
Etisalat has operations in 15 international marketsand over 139 million customers.
The judges’ criteria were that the product should be different from anything else available, easy to understand, reliable and consistent, and already on the market. The judges also wanted to see evidence that the product is popular with customers and conformity with industry standards.
In 2012, US$1.8 billion of financial transactions were completed through Etisalat Commerce. Around $18 million of this figure was made up by 5.7 million ticket sales for parking and the metro.
“Through these awards, we are proud to shine the light on the mobile industry’s many innovators and leaders, from all corners of the world,” said John Hoffman, CEO, GSMA Ltd. “This year’s new categories reflected the industry’s reach into many new sectors and we received more than 600 high-quality entries from across the mobile ecosystem. We would like to congratulate all Global Mobile Awards winners and thank the many hundreds of companies and organisations that support these awards by entering each year.”
A member of the judging panel said the product is “a stand-out entry in terms of the scale of deployment and comprehensive suite of m-commerceofferings across so many countries and different verticals. The open-loop system also makes it future-proof”.
He added that Flous is “an excellent mobile money product which has been very well tailored to serve local users”.
Another Etisalat product, Mobile Baby, aimed at helping pregnant women in developing countries,was also nominated in the“Best Mobile Product, Initiative or Service for Emerging Markets” and “GSMA mWomen Best Mobile Product or Service for Women in Emerging Markets” categories.
GSMA, an association for the world’s mobile operator community and broader industry organises the Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest annual communications industry event.