Myriad Connect in Africa – African Wireless Communications Yearbook Interview
Myriad Connect’s GM, Fabien Delanaud, recently spoke to African Wireless Communications Yearbook about Myriad Connect and our passion for being part of Africa’s burgeoning technology market.
Fabien Delanaud is general manager of Myriad Connect, responsible for the overall direction of Myriad’s mobile business unit, which works to support digital and mobile transformation, particularly in Africa.
With Myriad’s 15 years experience in the African market it has seen how big enterprise and entrepreneurs alike have used technology to accelerate growth. With its communications Platform-as-a-Service, Myriad sees the potential to bridge one of the existing gaps and address the challenge of reaching populations with limited or no access to data in South Africa.
During the past 12 months Delanaud has witnessed the impact of mobile in Africa, highlighting the region as “one of the most exciting and promising markets in the world for mobile innovation.” He argues that Africa is one of the most forward thinking areas when it comes to the use of mobile in everyday life. “Entire ecosystems are being built around mobile connectivity which has already drastically improved access to services for disadvantaged populations, which for us is very interesting.”
For the past year, Myriad Connect has primarily focused on the South African market, however further expansion is very much on the horizon. “In addition to our experience working in the African market, we’ve put a great deal of resource into field studies to ensure we understand the local markets and their needs.” explains Delanaud. “As a result of this, our Connect solution is the right solution for a number of key verticals and functions.”
The wireless communications market in Africa has undoubtedly adapted and evolved in the past 12 months, Delanaud has seen the effects of this, particularly in the M-commerce space. “M-commerce is huge in Africa,” continues Delanaud “with more people owning smartphones than bank accounts, so the region has become dependent on mobile payment gateways to buy and sell goods.
The region, however, is clearly not without its challenges, Delanaud believes one of the main concerns is around security: “Even though security is an issue in every economy and ecosystem globally, it is a real problem for consumers in Africa. In the West, fraudsters will often use technology and process loopholes to illegally access funds or data. In Africa, it is more human driven, using insiders’ collusion to either access information and customer accounts or set-up fake financial accounts instead.”
“A number of inherent weaknesses exist within the Know your Customer requirements for financial services in South Africa, for example.’ explained Delanaud. “Such are the flaws that the South African Reserve Bank has requested that all bank accounts are re-authenticated, in person, by the account holders, every 2 years.” There is a significant opportunity here for technology to support secure digital re-authentication, driving down costs to banks and improving the process for customers.
Similar potential exists to authorise and authenticate, ad-hoc direct debits, credit agreements or any financial transaction. Myriad has worked on innovations to deliver secure authentication services, one area of particular focus has been around the SIM-Swap trend, a major issue in South Africa: “It often involves operator and bank employee collusion to target high net worth individuals. One of our main goals over the next year is to provide a solution for this issue, powered by USSD. The Myriad Connect Authentication API provides a real-time check on the SIM in a way that cannot be tampered with via 3rd parties on handset, within the operator network or at the bank.”
With the amount of resource Myriad Connect has dedicated to understanding the opportunities in Africa, it is now ready to really begin providing consistent and reliable ways for enterprises and operators to engage with customers via mobile. Delanaud commented: “We have developed a cloud-based platform that enables businesses to quickly develop and deliver reliable, secure, and cost-effective mobile services on any device anywhere in the world. As a key market in the global mobile economy, Myriad will take what we have learnt in South Africa into Europe and the Americas.”