Vodafone could prove more visionary than the City

Could become an MVNO or get into banking not just become ‘fourplayer’

perhaps colao should create European MVNOs?

Over the last weekend, GoMo News spotted another opinion piece written by a financial journalist suggesting what direction Vodafone – one of the largest mobile network operators in the world, might take. At least this one – Danny Fortson writing in the Sunday Times, had one interesting figure. As a result of the ‘Verizon Wireless’ windfall, Danny has worked out that Vodafone’s CEO, Vittorio Colao, has a pot of gold worth around $21 billion to play with. So what does Mr Fortson expect Vodafone to spend the money on? Buying more fixed line networks so that the MNO (Mobile Network Operator) could offer ‘fourplay’ services in more of the markets it operates in. GoMo News, believes that Vodafone might be a bit more visionary than that.

For starters, GoMo News isn’t convinced that being a fourplayer is such a good thing. Here at GoMo Towers we became so disenchanted with Virgin Mobile, we nearly ditched all of our other (three services) in the process.

Therefore we’d argue that MNOs are better off sticking to what they do best – offering services over mobile data and voice. And definitely not TV.

To us, therefore a glaring opportunity for Vodafone to expand itself into European markets where it currently has no presence.

The way things are going with the EU, those MNOs operating in Europe are going to have to find ways to try to harmonise their pricing across the entire EU.

Which is difficult if you don’t actually have your own network in say, Greece. So why doesn’t Vodafone go about setting up a whole bunch of European MVNOs [Mobile Virtual Network Operators].

As an MVNO, it will need to come to deal with an MNO to offer voice and data services.

So when it is forced to offer cheaper calls in all European countries including those where it has no network, it will have already gone through all the painful negotiations.

We firmly believe that business users in particular will find it quite reassuring that when they get off a plane in Europe, their handset automatically roams onto a network branded as Vodafone.

Then there is banking. Or rather offering the equivalent of banking services to the non-banked.

Vodafone has massive experience of catering to the unbanked in Africa through Safaricom which launched its M-Pesa service back in April 2007.

Analysts frequently forget that there are substantial numbers of unbanked persons in developed markets. The term for them is children.

GoMo itself has witnessed enormous interest in this story ‘Vodafone launches Mobile Wallet service in Europe‘.

What Vodafone needs is a middleman which can feed money from the banking world into an unbanked economy and do the reverse. Extract funds from a wallet system and pay it into a bank account.

Perhaps Mr Fortson could make an educated guess on what sort of organisation Vodafone would need to acquire to best achieve this?

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