VP Infobip mobile payments, Paolo Rizzardini, sharing his impressions after MWC 2014.
For the telecommunications industry, the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is the most intense and inspirational of the year. We’ve exhibited for the 6th year in a row, this time with the largest and best positioned stand yet, and it was also the busiest MWC week yet. But what are the main takeaways, in addition to hundreds of business cards and great meetings? These are my top hashtags for the 2014 edition.
#quality - MWC is the place you come to for the latest mobile devices and other hardware, and this year was no exception. Other than the Samsung Galaxy S5, the real star of the show, Lenovo, LG, Sony, ZTE, Nokia and HTC all presented very powerful and beautiful smartphones and tablets. Another milestone for the industry is the wearables segment, which we could say went mainstream at this year’s MWC. Biometric wearable devices already have a loyal and growing user base, and the launch of Samsung Gear 2 to excellent reviews should give smartwatches the boost they need to gain a wider acceptance. On the software side, content is still king, just like it was a year ago, but we are also witnessing an app quality evolution in both B2C and B2B segments. Last but not least, the event organisation was so perfect that on the fourth day we were asking ourselves if they could’ve added a fifth day (our legs wouldn’t agree, actually).
#ecosystem - Mark Zuckerberg was arguably the biggest star of the show, delivering the keynote speech fresh from the acquisition of WhatsApp for a staggering sum of $19 BN. But, what he said in the keynote eclipsed even that: the importance of Internet availability for every human being of the planet. In the world that is beginning to emerge, Internet access will be as crucial and inalienable as food or water, and Zuckerberg’s Internet.org initiative could do wonders in bringing it to billions worldwide. To do that, Zuckerberg wants to elicit the cooperation of mobile operators – and during the huge amount of meetings we had, we easily noticed how this is what every player really wants. Operators are highly involved in every aspect of the communication chain and are ready to expose more and more their assets to the world, while enterprises are trying to shape a user-centric offer valuable in every corner of the planet. Building the wide telecoms-mobile-social ecosystem is a process that started a long time ago, but until this year it has never been so evident it is a common goal of all stakeholders in the industry.
#monetization - Providing an easy and efficient way to perform a purchase is a key element for this big ecosystem plan. Every offer needs an appropriate payment service and each end user needs the option that better fits their habits and possibilities. It was evident since before this MWC that e mobile is the perfect payment tool, and what all the new devices, growing connectivity quality and the crucial role of mobile operators in this emerging ecosystem show, is that m-payments could indeed be one of the main forces behind the telecommunications evolution.
And what about next year? What will be the main hashtag?
The future of this industry can be bright only by providing the people with the essential tools they need and the services they are looking for. That has to be the target for all of us involved in shaping the telecommunications ecosystem – allowing end-users to bring mobile into the centre of their life even more. Not just as a consumer, but also as a content creator, a contributor and an active participant. If we succeed in this, next year’s main hashtag can really be #people.