One of Africa’s leading mobile and internet value added service (VAS) providers in Africa, Ghana’s SMSGH is preparing to outdoor even more application as it moves into its US$1.25 million newly-built state-of-the-art offices by end of October 2014.
This fast growing indigenous start-up has for nine years run on the back of its three major platforms/apps; MYtxtBOX, Jumpfon, and MPower Payments which have grown its customers to over 25million across 4 African countries, doing millions of mobile VAS transactions on a daily basis.
Over 14 million of these customers are in Ghana alone.
SMSGH has almost 40,000 corporate clients currently, which include banks, insurance companies, small; medium; large enterprises, handset manufacturers, government, utility service providers, and many more.
It has also expanded its tentacles to Nigeria and Cameroun in West Africa and to Kenya in East Africa, with a registered representative office in the United States of America for the authentication of electronic payments.
The relatively young company achieved all this working from a relatively small space at Kokomlemle, where its offices sit about 40 employees comprising engineers/app developers, platform managers, business solution experts, call center executive and country operation directors (for the various countries) among other categories of staff.
General Manager of the company, Alex Adjei Bram told Adom Business “we will move into our new offices by end of October. It’s an exciting time for the company, and even more having this coincide with the launch of our Unity Aggregation Platform. This will mark the beginning of something entirely different in our space as it is a global first. This platform will host a plethora of innovative mobile and online based applications to serve our teaming clients across Africa and elsewhere.”
The current products
SMSGH’s most popular products currently are MYtxtBOX, Jumpfon and MPower Payments. MYtxtBOX is a bulk SMS service that enables mainly small businesses to engage with their clients by creating a customized short code through which bulk messages are sent out to clients and prospective clients.
MYtxtBOX is about the biggest app at SMSGH in terms of usage, as several small businesses and even event organizers have created customized short codes with their company name, through which they reach out to their customers.
Bram said “we’re soon rolling out voice capability on MYtxtBOX, which should enable our users to further their reach beyond SMS.”
SMSGH also runs the popular mobile subscription service, Jumpfon. This allows mobile phone subscribers to have additional value such as ring tones, caller ring back tones, short videos/audios, motivational messages, breaking news, dating and other exciting content through paid subscription.
SMSGH’s MPower Payments is an online platform that integrates various electronic payment platforms both locally and internationally. MPower links merchants and their clients on one of the most secure electronic transaction platforms this country could boast of. The payment platforms available on MPower include all Mobile Money wallets in Ghana as well Visa, Mastercard, banks, and Bram told Adom Business they are working with partner banks to link the platform to the Ghana Inter-Bank Payment and Settlement Service (GHiPSS).
The platform implements very high security and anti-fraud checks before transactions are cleared and that protects clients and puts off fraudsters. It also has insurance cover from some of the leading insurers in the industry, to ensure that even when a clients’ details are compromised, that clients loses nothing.
New office, new apps
The welcoming reception area
The new SMSGH three-storey building is nicely segmented into various areas, and a tour of the interior showed a bigger sales area, platform monitoring centre, apps development area, a call centre, an administrative area, a boardroom, and an anti-boardroom (a more relax and casual area for meetings and discussions, among other things)
Alex Adjei Bram said when the company moves into its new state-of-the-art-office, located on the same premises as the old one, “there is going to be a flood of applications and services that we will release into the market to further deepen Ghana’s position as a leading VAS community in Africa.”
He said there would for instance be an app that allows mobile advertising, where companies could advertise to a targeted group of clients and prospective clients on their mobile phones for less, rather than in the mainstream media, which is more expensive.
“This service will help small businesses operating within particular communities to target and advertise to people within the community alone, instead of placing an advert on a national network and paying more when in fact the target markets are within particular locations,” he said.
It would also help businesses to target clients based on their age group, gender and other forms of categorization.
Bram said there would also be an app that helps people to easily locate others and track them. That app would work as a tracking system, even for cars and other things.
“We are also going to have applications for polls and savings, applications for product authentication, for email-to-SMS service, applications to manage corporate promotions, and a website where corporate organizations can set up their own private automatic branch exchange (PABX) to communicate with clients in the most secure way, and so many others,” he said with smiles.
SMSGH is also close to finishing about 10 new tailor-made applications for specific corporate clients for promotions and other services those organizations are about to run in the country soon.
Alex Adjei Bram said “the team here at SMSGH is a very entrepreneurial one, so we measure our success by the result we give our customers. I would not say business has not been good but the financial reward is not our yardstick at SMSGH – to the extent that our customers are getting result or value, and our products are helping businesses to grow we can say we are successful.”
He believes the regulatory environment in Ghana has been pretty responsive to the industry but things could be better if the regulations properly encompasses every aspect of the VAS space with an orientation towards helping the main players, who are mainly young but skillful Ghanaian entrepreneurs, to grow.
Particularly in the area of stemming abuse of VAS services, Bram said the regulator has been largely responsive and some industry players now need to sanitize their operations to meet regulatory standards.
But he still believes “the regulator has some catching up to do with the VAS industry – we need a regulator that is not too speculative or restrictive because that could also stifle innovation,” he said.
He said “at SMSGH we have effective systems of preventing and checking abuse on our applications and have also signed on to the Code of Ethics of WASPAG (Wireless Application Service Providers Association of Ghana) for the purposes of ensuring sanity in our industry,” he said.
Government has announced that soon it would issue a license for a one-stop-shop clearinghouse for the telecom and VAS industry, and Bram thinks the clearing house is a great idea because “it will bring organization, sanity and a fair playing field into the entire telecom industry and potentially help the local VAS space to grow.”
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