Can sms improve electoral voting?

SMS voting

The current voting process has hardly changed since the beginning of time (or at least since 1832 in the UK). On Thursday 7 May 2015, there’s three options for placing your vote: in person at a polling station, by post or by choosing someone to vote on your behalf (by proxy). But it could be argued that one of the methods of significantly increasing participation is literally in the palm of our hands.

Having worked with the humble text message for the past 5 years, I appreciate its appeal to the mass market and that with the appropriate security checks in place, there’s no reason why SMS couldn’t be used as a voting mechanism in politics, in the same way it is for so many other things.

With 93% of UK adults now owning mobile phones, SMS voting would without doubt allow more people to vote via the convenience of SMS. This would mean those of us without a car, on holiday, or too busy at work, would be able to have our say, adding an unparalleled layer of accessibility on voting day.

Furthermore, SMS could be more of a secure option than current voting methods and anyone registered to vote via SMS could opt-in to receive reminders if they hadn’t yet voted, this would without doubt increase participation from its current rate of 65.1%.


Selecting SMS with the Electoral Commission:

This could work in the same way as a postal registration, where you’d select the SMS option when the Electoral Commission contact you but provide your mobile phone number rather than address. Alternatively or in addition to this, you could text into a shortcode automatically registering your mobile number.

Security of SMS voting:

Voting via SMS could be more secure and reliable than the current postal option. Voters could be sent a unique pin in addition to their electoral reference number when voting via SMS. Once their MSISDN (the telephone number to the SIM card in a mobile phone) has been logged as voted, they would be unable to re-vote or change their minds – exactly the same as when visiting a polling booth; the only difference being the improved experience.

Voting via SMS:

On voting day, a text message could be sent to anyone that had chosen to vote via SMS, letting them know that the polls were open and that they could vote between 7.00am and 10.00pm that day.

Anyone who had not voted by 6.00pm could be sent a reminder and a final reminder at 8.00pm to anyone who had still not voted. An example of personalising someone’s experience based on their behaviour, something Marketers are beginning to do very well but why isn’t the Government?

Collating SMS votes:

Unlike counting paper votes which takes hours, the SMS votes can be counted in real time with a running tally. This means that when the voting closes at 10.00pm, the registered votes would be ready immediately.


As with any voting method, there are some obvious rules that need to be adhered to when voting via SMS.

-   Voters that change mobile phone numbers, would be required to notify the Electoral Commission; just as they would if they’d moved house. (Having said that, in the past 10 years I’ve moved house more times than I’ve changed mobile phone numbers).

-   Voters would have to ensure that measures were taken to allow them to vote from the MSISDN they had registered, such as ample charge on the battery, available credit and a mobile phone capable of sending SMS – all basic requirements.

And so to conclude; I truly believe the UK Government could really benefit from upgrading the archaic methods of voting to a mobile friendly approach. I’m sure too that the British public would welcome a more convenient method of voting, one that fits into their busy lifestyles.

But what do you think?

How protected are we against mobile predators?

With the daily increase of SMS and apps on our mobile phones tempting us to engage, how vulnerable are we to rogues and predators out to fleece us of our rands and cents?

Anzelle Robertson, responsible for legal compliance at Oxygen8, global providers of integrated mobile solutions, comments, “As far as self-regulation and legislation go in South Africa, we run a very tight ship. Wireless Application Providers’ Association (WASPA) monitors the mobile industry along with their members and, has recently increased measures to protect the consumer.”



WASPA wears two caps – it acts as a watchdog on behalf of the industry, but also on behalf of the consumer.

Combatting rogue operators

The recent WhatsApp  ‘scam’, where consumers inadvertently added a potential R200 per month to their phone bill for add-on services, created a lot of fear in the industry. This occurs when consumers, who may be distracted at the time, fail to notice the pricing information which, in accordance with regulatory requirements, is always displayed immediately adjacent to the button that initiates the next step in the sign-up process (known as the “Call to Action”).

Should one be worried? Yes and no, says Robertson.  “Some companies send out thousands of SMSs based on the assumption that a percentage of people will not read the pricing information and subscribe regardless.”

Robertson adds, “All the full members of WASPA, who are mostly mobile aggregators like ourselves and the affiliate members, who use the services of the full members to bill for content, are very compliance-aware and constantly strive to adhere to the regulations and code of conduct.” Aggregators, which provide their clients with a billing mechanism for content in exchange for airtime, have “binds” or pipes into the Network Operators and are required by the Networks’ respective contracts to remain members of WASPA in good standing.

Robertson says that all these providers are well schooled in the rules and regulations of WASPA to ensure that all services that go out to the public are fully compliant. “So much so that at Oxygen8, we have a dedicated internal compliance team, also comprising an attorney that checks all marketing material against the code of conduct to ensure that all is in order and compliant.”

An example, she says, is that you need to ensure that the pricing information in a communiqué is next to the call-to-action button, so that consumers are well aware of the amount they are paying. “It can’t be hidden away at the bottom of the page.”

“Compliance is core to our business and we act as gatekeepers and watchdogs for our clients, the consumer and industry at large,” says Robertson. “Many of our clients are based overseas and are not familiar with local regulatory requirements, which is why we offer comprehensive regulatory and compliance advice as part-and-parcel of our service to them.”

Scenarios that challenge compliance

Robertson paints a picture of scenarios where material may be considered to be non-compliant. Sometimes, if an aggregator does not have sufficient internal compliance procedures, content can slip through that does not follow the code of conduct. “This can be picked up by a consumer or the association, and the issues need to be addressed very quickly.“

The second scenario of non-compliance that may arise is when there is a difference in interpretation between the service provider and WASPA. “In this situation where there is a disagreement, WASPA has a procedure in place which follows the lines of a formal complaint being lodged, a formal response and the engagement of a third party to adjudicate the results,” says Robertson.

“This interaction is very healthy and progressive. As service providers, we need to be as skillful as possible to find that balance between compliance and the freedom for our clients to market creatively,” she adds.

Four Layers of Safety

Robertson says that consumers can rest assured that the regulatory climate requires quadruple safety walls to protect them.“The first layer of security is consumer education and the mandatory inclusion of such clauses as terms and conditions, pricing and helpline,” says Robertson. “The second layer is the completion of the Network Hosted confirmation step, which requires that an end-user confirm his/her request for the subscription service directly with his/her relevant Network Operator. Without this confirmation, it is physically impossible for any aggregator to bill a consumer’s mobile account.

“The third safety measure is the requirement that a message confirming the subscription is sent immediately after a user has subscribed. This message will always start with the word “Welcome” and will contain the pricing information and instructions on how to unsubscribe,” says Robertson.

The fourth regulatory requirement that protects the consumer is that once a month, the service provider has to send out a subscription reminder, which contains easy opt-out instructions, thereby preventing ad infinitum billing.

Robertson says that with all these measures in place, the consumer is truly protected, but she warns against rogue operators whose objective is to hoodwink the consumer into a service they don’t really need or want. “Slow down and carefully read the text before clicking the “next” or “acceptance” buttons,” concludes Robertson.

Note: Anzelle Roberton is an Attorney of the High Court of the Republic of South Africa and telecommunications-compliance specialist. She is a graduate of the University of the North West, where she obtained her LLB degree in 2009.

Bringing with her nearly four years’ experience in Civil- and Commercial Litigation, Robertson joined Oxygen8 South Africa in 2012 as Legal and Compliance Officer, advising the company and its clients on the regulatory requirements and statutory framework governing the South African Mobile Payment and VAS-industry.

For further information contact: Anzelle Robertson

Editorial Contacts: P and P Communications:  Nono Matuwane TsungaiDhliwayo  or  contact 011 447 3511

Oxygen8 Announces the Winner of the ‘Master of Mobile Awards’ 2015

DSC01133Katie Morrison, Agency Partner at Facebook and Ray Tierney Group Commercial Director at Oxygen8

Facebook voted best mobile brand by 8,500 UK consumers

Barcelona, 3rd March, 2015: Oxygen8, a global provider of multi-channel solutions that allow brands to communicate with customers and receive payments, has today announced that Facebook has topped the results of its inaugural ‘Master of Mobile Awards’ (MoMa’s) at Mobile World Congress 2015, with Amazon second.

The Master of Mobile Awards are the first to recognise and celebrate mobile brands as voted for exclusively by consumers themselves, rather than by the mobile industry.

The awards follow extensive research commissioned by Oxygen8 that asked over 8,500 UK mobile users their favourite brands on mobile, based simply on which individual brand they judged to deliver the best overall experience on their mobile device. Over 300 separate brands were nominated.

Broken down into a number of categories, the winning brands were; Facebook for overall Master of Mobile, Amazon for Master of Shopping, Barclays for Master of Banking, Facebook for Master of Social, and Paddy Power for Master of Gambling. Other brands ranking in the top 20 include Google, YouTube, Apple, and Tesco.

Shane Leahy, Group CEO at Oxygen8 says: “We are thrilled to be able to announce the first ever ‘Master of Mobile’ awards at Mobile World Congress. The awards are voted for exclusively by consumers themselves, rather than the mobile industry, meaning the brands who took top prizes should feel very proud that they have successfully been able to engage with their customers and users over mobile.”

He continues: “Facebook has the unquestionable scale but it matches that by delivering an exceptional experience on mobile, as voted for by the people that use the service. The top 10 results include some of the world’s biggest and most powerful brands but it also includes the biggest names from the UK banking sector which is indicative of how smartphones are changing the way people run their day-to-day lives.”

Dowload the White paper “Mastering Mobile: making engagement pay”

MWC 2015: Who is the ultimate Master of Mobile?

MoMa_socialOxygen8 have commissioned independent research agency mobilesquared (and affiliate partner GMI Lightspeed) to survey over 8,500 UK consumers to find out which brands are the best on mobile.

Mobilesquared asked people to name a single brand which delivers the best mobile experience to them – be it a running app, the ability to control their finances, seamless shopping, vouchers and promotions from a favourite store or restaurant, or a game, website, or news or information app – the choice is endless. Where possible, the consumers were also asked to reveal why they felt this brand was the Master of Mobile. Over 300 individual brands were nominated.

We will be exclusively revealing the results of this huge survey at 4pm on Tuesday 3rd March, at Oxygen8’s stand (stand 7F80), in the Master of Mobile Awards (MOMA’s), with awards for the Winner, Runner Up and Highly Recommended brands, followed by a drinks reception. We invite you to join us to find out who is the undisputed Master of Mobile, and also be in with a chance of winning an iPad Mini.

You can also pick up our White Paper outlining those brands who made the Top 20 Master of Mobile Awards short list, by visiting the Oxygen8 stand at any time during Mobile World Congress.



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UK-company Oxygen8 primed for major global growth following reorganisation and key appointments

Oxygen8 Group, the innovative integrated platform provider helping businesses make smarter choices, has completed its internal reorganisation and appointed senior industry figures, as the company looks to consolidate its position as the leading corporate and mobile payment solutions provider.

To serve the rapid expansion enjoyed by Oxygen8 in the corporate sector, Simon Brennan is now heads up Corporate Solutions, while Kevin Dawson will become Head of Payments, to oversee the evolution of the company’s advanced payment solutions.

Brennan has extensive experience in delivering communications solutions for corporates, such as HSBC, Experian, Sainsbury’s, Whitbread, RBS, Vodafone, Nationwide and BskyB.

“Oxygen8’s unique propositions offer myself and my team a market leading set of solutions to support the growth in our corporate customer base,” said Brennan, Head of Corporate Sales at Oxygen8. “Corporates are using mobile to develop a deeper connection and understanding with their customer base, and it’s our Evolve platform that is driving that relationship.”

To meet the growing demand for paying for goods and services with a mobile device, Dawson will draw on his 20 years’ experience in the ICT sector to develop Oxygen8’s commercial strategy for mobile payments.

“This is the most exciting period for mobile payments and my challenge is to ensure Oxygen8 remains in the driving seat,” said Dawson, Head of Payments at Oxygen8.

With over 10 years of experience in the telecommunication industry, Oxygen8 has chosen Ray Tierney, former CEO, as Group Commercial Director. This Board position will see Ray focused on directing and accelerating sales across the Group for Corporate Solutions.

To complement the reorganisation, Oxygen8 has appointed Robert Townsend as Chief Marketing Officer and Jonathan Geoghegan as Head of Products.

Townsend brings over 20 year’s expertise, with specific experience in B2B Technical and SAAS marketing, and will review Oxygen8 Group’s international marketing strategy and operations, and spearhead the company’s objectives and expansion plans.

“Oxygen8 is a truly heavyweight player working with a glittering array of brands and mobile operators on the international stage,” said Townsend, Chief Marketing Officer at Oxygen8. “Building on this success, we will strengthen our position in the UK and Ireland, Australia, South Africa and East Africa.”

Keeping Oxygen8’s products and services at the leading-edge is the responsibility of Jonathan Geoghegan, whom has a wealth of experience covering product, vendor, and channel management.

“Multi-channel solutions have been the back bone of our success across multiple territories – continuing this with exciting new products ‑ and services ‑ means we remain rooted to delivering the products and services that deliver results, demanded by our corporate and mobile operator customers,” said Geoghegan, Head of Products at Oxygen8.

The internal reorganisation and appointments of Townsend and Geoghegan are Oxygen8’s direct response to emerging trends in the corporate and mobile operator space.

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