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Global Mobile Operators: Strategies in Payments and Banking

Table of Contents

Executive Summary


Group Strategy Analysis

Brand Analysis




Finaccord's research covers 60 major mobile telecoms groups and 286 country-specific operator brands

At a strategic level, leading telecoms groups are most active in the field of mobile payments...

... with many also having made mobile banking an important focus for development

North America hosts the highest proportion of mobile payment schemes with contactless functionality... 

... and Africa and the Middle East the lowest

Mobile wallets (such as the M-PESA platform) are typically run by the mobile operators themselves

Co-branded credit card programs remain more widespread than their prepaid equivalents

Mobile telecoms groups and brands are likely to up their game in financial services for several reasons

The current worldwide structure of mobile financial services is both complex and fragmented…

…with OTT services liable to cause a significant change in the mobile payment landscape in particular

In future, leading mobile telecoms groups are likely to work with a smaller number of large providers


What is this report about?

This study analyses the involvement of mobile operators in payments and banking...

... covering over 800 distinct product initiatives and deals


Mobile operators can be key affinity distribution partners in payments and banking


Primary research

The research covers 60 mobile operator groups and 286 brands across 92 countries

External sources


Payment and banking products and services

Other terms

Operating models

Unweighted and weighted share of partnerships

Interactive PartnerBASE




Summary of groups researched

By total number of subscribers, China Mobile is by far the largest of the 60 groups investigated

The global market for mobile payments

The worldwide market for mobile payments has increased exponentially in recent years

Group strategic approaches to mobile payments and banking

Most leading telecoms groups are pursuing mobile payments as a strategic opportunity...

... although some have devolved strategy formulation to national mobile operator brands

In the developing world, mobile payments have become a feature of daily life for many consumers

The 'low-tech' model will continue to be relevant…

…while 'high-tech' options have yet to live up to perennial expectations

The rise of biometric security features provides a possible solution to mobile payment security issues

Apple's iPay and Google Wallet are competing head to head

Direct carrier billing has become an important worldwide payment method for digital goods...

... benefitting competitors such as Bango, Boku and Fortumo

Talktime and call credit transfer remain the simplest means of transferring funds worldwide

Telecoms groups are less likely to enter into tied agreements for mobile banking than for mobile payments

User authentication may prove a valuable service for mobile operators to provide for banks...

... as developed by Avea and Turkcell in Turkey and the BankID initiative in Norway

Banking product initiatives are usually arranged by mobile operators at a country-specific level

Group ownership and partnership strategies in mobile payments and banking

The creation of captive and joint venture companies is an option for mobile telecoms groups...

... with outright or partial ownership almost inevitably the outcome of centralised decisions

Captives in payments and banking

26 captives owned by the telecoms groups themselves are involved in payments and / or banking

PayBox Bank is primarily a mobile payment provider although also holds a banking license

Telenor operates a fully licensed captive bank in Serbia following its acquisition of KBC Bank

Swisscom allows customers of rival customers to utilise its Tapit mobile payment product

SK Group's Syrup aims to integrate loyalty and discount functions with a mobile payment scheme

Joint ventures in payments and banking

Almost 30 formal joint ventures are active, with most focusing on mobile payments...

... and some have been configured among two or more mobile telecoms groups...

... with banks and / or technology companies also participating

Taiwan Mobile Payment involves over 30 banks, other agencies, payment networks and mobile operators

Japan's KDDI is co-owner of a joint venture retail bank in the shape of Jibun Bank

Some established and proposed joint ventures (such as Wanda) have failed to work out

In the UK, Apple's iPay and the planned launch of Zapp have affected the market

Softcard's app is being withdrawn by major mobile operators in the US

Strategic partnerships with banks

Wirecard works as a strategic partner with both SFR and Vodafone

Prepaid mobile operator cards are often linked to bank-driven payment schemes

Strategic partnerships with payment and payment-related technology companies

Gemalto is used as a strategic partner by several groups and at a local level by numerous operators

Several other technology companies provide support for mobile payments, especially via NFC

Monitise and Wirecard are significant competitors in the mobile operator payments sector

MasterCard and Visa have become two of the most important payment partners for mobile payments...

... with American Express, PayPal and Western Union also competing in this space



Summary of brands researched

Over 50% of mobile phone subscribers are concentrated in one geographical region

Vodafone is the owner (or co-owner) of 23 of the mobile operator brands researched

Provision of payment and banking products

Overall provision rates

Globally, the most common type of mobile payment product is direct carrier billing…

…while co-branded credit cards are more widespread than co-branded prepaid cards

Linked bank cards or bank accounts

Several large European and North American brands offer payments via linked bank card / account

In Latin America, the payment type is restricted to leading brands in a smaller number of countries

China's UnionPay holds the highest weighted share of issuer partnerships in this field...

…and also claims the highest share of payment network partnerships

Direct carrier billing

Almost all mobile subscribers have access to direct carrier billing in four out of seven regions

Fortumo takes the highest share of direct carrier billing partnerships by a substantial margin

An expansion of Zong’s services to other areas would make it a major competitor in this sphere

Network accounts

Payments via network accounts are most prominent in Africa and the Middle East...

... partly because mobile phones are seen as a key method of promoting financial inclusion

Network account providers from China, India and Indonesia lead the weighted rankings…

…although Vodafone's M-PESA product is potentially the most popular worldwide

A majority of network accounts run on private networks

Contactless payment is more common for linked bank cards and accounts than for network accounts

Smartphone apps are most commonly a feature of payments in North America and parts of Europe

Talktime / call credit transfer

Talktime / call credit transfer is an important peer-to-peer payment method in several regions

Mobile banking (bank current accounts)

Qualifying mobile banking schemes are especially visible in India...

... albeit China Merchants Bank is the mobile banking partner with the largest potential audience

Credit cards (non-virtual)

Co-branded (non-virtual) credit cards developed with mobile operators are most visible in Latin America

Citibank works with a number of substantial mobile operators for co-branded credit cards...

... as does Itáu

MasterCard’s share of network partnerships is somewhat higher than that of Visa in this arena

Prepaid cards (non-virtual)

Co-branded non-virtual prepaid cards developed by mobile operators are in evidence in all seven regions...

... most notably in North America

Partnerships with mobile operators for prepaid cards are spread across a wide range of providers

... albeit MasterCard and Visa again dominate as payment networks

International payments / remittances

A minority of mobile operators promote international payment or remittance services

Unistream is the most prominent provider thanks to partnerships with three Russian mobile operators

Consumer finance and micro-credits

Consumer finance or micro-credit options are available in six of the seven regions surveyed

Japan’s DCMX and Nigeria’s Diamond Bank have major mobile operator partnerships in this sphere

Miscellaneous payment and banking products

A handful of mobile operators offer other types of payment or banking product

These include an investment account offered through China Telecom by Bestpay and a local bank

Operating models for payment and banking products

The split of operating models varies greatly by type of payment or banking service

Profiles in the interactive PartnerBASE file

2degrees (New Zealand)

3 (Austria)

3 (Hong Kong)

3 (Indonesia)

3 (Ireland)

3 (Italy)

3 (Sweden)

3 (UK)

A1 (Austria)

Aircel (India)

airtel (Ghana)

airtel (India)

airtel (Kenya)

airtel (Nigeria)

airtel (Tanzania)

airtel (Uganda)

AIS (Thailand)

Antel (Uruguay)

APT - Asia Pacific Telecom (Taiwan)

AT&T Mobillity (US)

au (Japan)

Avea (Turkey)

Bakrie Telecom (Indonesia)

BASE (Belgium)

Beeline (Kazakhstan)

Beeline (Russia)

Bell Mobility (Canada)

BH Mobile (Bosnia Herzegovina)

Bouygues Télécom (France)

BSNL (India)

Cable & Wireless (Panama)

Celcom (Malaysia)

Cell C (South Africa)

Cellcom (Israel)

Ceria Mobile (Indonesia)

China Mobile (China)

China Telecom (China)

China Unicom (China)

Chunghwa Telecom (Taiwan)

Claro (Argentina)

Claro (Brazil)

Claro (Chile)

Claro (Colombia)

Claro (Dominican Republic)

Claro (Ecuador)

Claro (El Salvador)

Claro (Guatemala)

Claro (Honduras)

Claro (Nicaragua)

Claro (Peru)

COSMOTE (Greece)

csl (Hong Kong)

DiGi (Malaysia)

Digi.Mobil (Romania)

Digicel (Haiti)

Digicel (Jamaica)

Digitel GSM (Venezuela)

Djezzy (Algeria)

DNA (Finland)

DTAC (Thailand)

du (UAE)


Elisa (Finland)

Entel (Bolivia)

Entel (Chile)

Entel (Peru)

E-Plus (Germany)

Etisalat (Egypt)

Etisalat (Nigeria)

Etisalat (UAE)

Expresso (Senegal)

Far EasTone (Taiwan)

FITEL (Taiwan)

Free (France)

Geocell (Georgia)

Glo (Ghana)

Glo (Nigeria)

Globe Telecom (Philippines)

Gmobile (Vietnam)

IAM (Morocco)

Idea Cellular (India)

Indosat (Indonesia)

inwi (Morocco)

Kcell (Kazakhstan)

Kölbi (Costa Rica)

KPN (Netherlands)

KT (South Korea)

Kyivstar (Ukraine)

LG U+ (South Korea)

life:) (Ukraine) 

LIME (Jamaica)

LMT (Latvia)

Loop Mobile (India)

Iusacell (Mexico)

m:tel (Bosnia Herzegovina)

M1 (Singapore)

MagtiCom (Georgia)

Magyar Telekom (Hungary)

Maxis (Malaysia)

Méditel (Morocco)

MegaFon (Russia)

MEO (Portugal)

Meteor (Ireland)

MobiFone (Vietnam)

Mobilis (Algeria)

Mobily (Saudi Arabia)

Mobinil (Egypt)

Mobistar (Belgium)

Movicel (Angola)

Movilnet (Venezuela)

Movistar (Argentina)

Movistar (Chile)

Movistar (Colombia)

Movistar (Ecuador)

Movistar (Guatemala)

Movistar (Mexico)

Movistar (Nicaragua)

Movistar (Peru)

Movistar (Spain)

Movistar (Uruguay)

Movistar (Venezuela)

MPT (Myanmar)

mt:s (Serbia)

M-Tel (Bulgaria)

MTN (Cameroon)

MTN (Ghana)

MTN (Nigeria)

MTN (South Africa)

MTN (Sudan) 

MTN (Uganda)

MTN (Yemen)

MTNL (India)

MTS (India)

MTS (Russia)

MTS (Ukraine)

Ncell (Nepal)

Nepal Telecom (Nepal)

NetCom (Norway)

NEXTEL (Argentina)

NEXTEL (Brazil)

NEXTEL (Mexico)

NOS (Portugal)


O2 (Czech Republic)

O2 (Germany)

O2 (Ireland)

O2 (Slovakia)

O2 (UK)

Oi (Brazil)

Oman Mobile (Oman)

Omnitel (Lithuania)

Ooredoo (Algeria)

Ooredoo (Kuwait)

Ooredoo (Oman)

Ooredoo (Qatar)

Ooredoo (Tunisia)

Optus Mobile (Australia)

Orange (Cameroon)

Orange (Dominican Republic)

Orange (France)

Orange (Israel)

Orange (Kenya)

Orange (Poland)

Orange (Romania)

Orange (Senegal)

Orange (Slovakia)

Orange (Spain)

Orange (Switzerland)

Orange (Tunisia)

Pelephone (Israel)

Personal (Argentina)

Personal (Paraguay)

Play (Poland) 240 Plus (Poland)

Proximus (Belgium)

Reliance Communications (India)

Rogers Wireless (Canada)

Sabafon (Yemen)

Safaricom (Kenya)

SFR (France)

Si.mobil (Slovenia)

Singtel Mobile (Singapore)

SK Telecom (South Korea)

Smart Communications (Philippines)

Smartfren (Indonesia)

SmarTone (Hong Kong)

SoftBank Mobile (Japan)

Sonera (Finland)

Spark (New Zealand)

Sprint Nextel (US)

StarHub Mobile (Singapore)

STC (Saudi Arabia)

Sunrise (Switzerland)

Swisscom (Switzerland)

Taiwan Mobile (Taiwan)

Tata DOCOMO (India)

TDC (Denmark)

Telcel (Mexico)

Tele2 (Latvia)

Tele2 (Lithuania)

Tele2 (Norway)

Tele2 (Russia)

Tele2 (Sweden)

Telekom (Germany)

Telekom (Romania)

Telekom (Slovakia)

Telekom Slovenije (Slovenia)

Telenor (Bulgaria)

Telenor (Denmark)

Telenor (Hungary)

Telenor (Norway)

Telenor (Serbia)

Telenor (Sweden)

Telia (Denmark)

Telia (Sweden)

Telkom (South Africa)

Telkomsel (Indonesia)

Telstra (Australia)

Telus Mobility (Canada)

T-Hrvatski Telekom (Croatia)

Tigo (Bolivia)

Tigo (Colombia)

Tigo (El Salvador)

Tigo (Ghana)

Tigo (Guatemala)

Tigo (Honduras)

Tigo (Paraguay)

Tigo (Senegal)

Tigo (Tanzania)

TIM (Brazil)

TIM (Italy)

T-Mobile (Austria)

T-Mobile (Czech Republic)

T-Mobile (Netherlands)

T-Mobile (Poland)

T-Mobile (US)

True Move (Thailand)

Tunisie Télécom (Tunisia)

Turkcell (Turkey)

U.S. Cellular (US)

Unefon (Mexico)

Uninor (India)

Unitel (Angola)

Verizon Wireless (US)

VIBO (Taiwan)

Videocon (India)

Vietnamobile (Vietnam)

Viettel Mobile (Vietnam)

Vinaphone (Vietnam)

VIP (Croatia)

VIP (Serbia)

Visafone (Nigeria)

VIVA (Kuwait)

Vivacom (Bulgaria)

Vivo (Brazil)

Vodacom (South Africa)

Vodacom (Tanzania)

Vodafone (Australia)

Vodafone (Czech Republic)

Vodafone (Egypt)

Vodafone (Germany)

Vodafone (Ghana)

Vodafone (Greece)

Vodafone (Hungary)

Vodafone (India)

Vodafone (Ireland)

Vodafone (Italy)

Vodafone (Netherlands)

Vodafone (New Zealand)

Vodafone (Portugal)

Vodafone (Qatar)

Vodafone (Romania)

Vodafone (Spain)

Vodafone (Turkey)

Vodafone (UK)

WIND (Canada)

Wind (Italy)

WIND Hellas (Greece)

XL Axiata (Indonesia)

Y!Mobile (Japan)

Yoigo (Spain)

yuMobile (Kenya)

Zain (Kuwait)

Zain (Saudi Arabia)

Zain (Sudan)

Zantel (Tanzania)

To see a full list of graphics/tables in this report, please click here and scroll to page XI. 



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