As the white-label force behind a growing number of mobile wallets in Asia, Latin America and Europe, Mozido LLC is familiar with the limitations of building consumer awareness and usage through relatively narrow channels.

Mobile wallets devised for a particular purpose, like providing bank account access or topping up value on a mobile phone account, often are captive to their sponsor’s core business and lack direct connections to the broad spectrum of retail and loyalty mobile wallets can support, said David Luther, Mozido’s executive vice president and chief business officer.

“We often depend on the companies sponsoring our mobile wallets to promote them, and that can work. But we see bigger opportunities to expand our reach by teaming up with diversified marketing partners that bring us broad access to consumers and advertisers to take our partnerships even further,” he said.  

For its first consumer-facing mobile wallet in India, a market where Mozido has big ambitions, the Austin, Texas-based company decided to partner with Saavn, a top music-streaming service in India. Mozido’s wallet will be the preferred payment option for Saavn, which has 18 million customers, the companies said.

“This is a starting point for Mozido to promote what will eventually be a pretty broad array of mobile banking and retail services to a potential audience of about 1.2 billion unbanked and underbanked consumers in India,” Luther said.

Currently, Saavn customers’ only payment option for upgrading to the music-streaming service’s commercial-free product is to use a credit or debit card, and Saavn experiences “a lot of abandonment” from the many listeners who lack a bank account, Luther said.

Mozido expects to soon announce the name of an Indian bank that’s providing a mobile prepaid account that will give mobile money access to unbanked customers through Mozido’s wallet, Luther said.

An additional lure for new customers will be special promotional offers from Saavn available by paying with Mozido, including early access to music releases, concert passes, discounted movie tickets and rebates on the commercial-free music service, he said.

Mozido’s mobile wallet will be offered in India through an app for iPhone and Android, and the company plans to expand its services to include bill payment, mobile phone service replenishment, peer-to-peer payments and e-commerce, capitalizing on Saavn’s existing reach to hundreds of advertisers of consumer products and services.

“Saavn already has a broad audience that consists of our prime target of unbanked and underbanked customers, and with its existing advertisers, it provides a whole pipeline for promotion and to connect consumers with services through a mobile wallet,” Luther said.

Mozido is also counting on Saavn’s rich support from social media to help spread awareness of its mobile wallet. Saavn, founded in 2007 with offices in India and the U.S., already is integrated with Facebook, Twitter and Shazam, and its users listen to music on average up to 45 minutes per day, according to Mozido.

Saavn, for its part, was interested in partnering with Mozido because of its “overall roadmap for mobile payments and financial services in emerging markets,” Vinodh Bhat, Saavn’s president and co-founder, said in a statement.

Mozido still has work to do before its mobile wallet in India can support the diverse services it plans there. In addition to finalizing the agreement with its banking partner to support prepaid mobile accounts, Mozido is negotiating with retail partners that will enable consumers to load cash into the mobile wallet at outlets across India.

That could be one of the biggest challenges Mozido encounters in its India rollout, Luther acknowledges. There are 650,000 villages in India where most residents are unbanked, partly because the nearest bank is an average of 30 miles away.

“We feel optimistic, because India’s government is making it easier to expand access to unbanked consumers, and we think there will be opportunities for our wallet to eventually be interoperable with other mobile money services in India,” Luther said. He declined to disclose further details about Mozido’s in-store strategy for onboarding customers or adding and withdrawing cash from the mobile wallet.

Mozido will announce “all the ecosystem partners” separately in coming months, Luther said.

The tactic of partnering with a music-streaming service has a shot at success, believes Thad Peterson, a senior analyst with Aite Group.

“Mozido has a solid wallet platform and has had a great deal of success as a white-label provider. Moving to a customer-facing offer could be challenging, but connecting with a leading music streaming service in a market where wallets are only just emerging is a smart way to launch,” he suggested.

Building a successful ecosystem for mobile wallets is a work in progress for Mozido, Luther acknowledged.

“We’ve learned a lot as we move into different countries; each country has different challenges and opportunities,” he said.

In the last few years Mozido has notched growth in various emerging markets in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe. Last year Mozido announced a partnership to provide mobile wallet platform for Deutsche Telekom AG in Germany.

In Jamaica in 2014, Mozido launched a broadly positioned mobile wallet anchored by a stored-value prepaid card, called Conec Mobile Wallet, which bears similarities to its India effort, Luther said. That wallet was launched through a consortium of banks, with direct support from Jamaica’s central bank.

“We see a lot of opportunity to expand mobile wallets in emerging markets around the world, where governments are looking to extend financial inclusion through mobile money, and marketers are looking to reach the unbanked through mobile banking and retail services for the first time,” he said.

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