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.”

mobile_predators

 

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 anzelle.robertson@oxygen8.co.za

http://sa.oxygen8.co.za/

Editorial Contacts: P and P Communications:  Nono Matuwane nono@pandp.co.zaor TsungaiDhliwayo tsungai@pandp.co.za  or  contact 011 447 3511

The most effective mobile brands: how do you compare?

According to Oxygen8’s latest research, the role mobile phones play within our daily lives is changing, dramatically. The traditional peer to peer voice call popularity has now fallen below services such as weather, navigation and the mobile device’s camera.

We now use our smartphones to monitor our heart beat, improve the efficiency of our central heating in our homes, or to track the distance of our run, it remains the simplest service of them all, the humble text message, that continues to be the most popular service on mobile, used by over 90% of mobile users.

Most popular mobile service

Between November 2014 and February 2015, almost 8,500 votes were cast by UK mobile users based on their view of the best brand, feature or service on their mobile device. In total, more than 500 individual brands, features and services, were nominated in the search to identify the Master of Mobile. To see the top 20 Mobile Brands download Oxygen8 free white paper here

With considerably bigger budgets, it’s not surprising that the world’s biggest brands feature in our Master of Mobile top 20, but if we dissect the results by sector, the unlikely winner is banking, with the sector occupying an impressive 35% of the top 20 brands. Whereas, news, social media and shopping each account for 15% of the top 20.

Top 20 Brands

 

Not only was the BBC the highest ranked broadcaster, BBC News was the highest standalone news service, and BBC Weather the highest branded weather service – and all featured within the top 30. Fierce rivals Sky, along with Sky News and Sky Sports, were all outside the top 20, placed 33, 24, and 27 respectively.

Google Maps was the leading maps and navigation branded service, and the only provider of its type to feature in the top 50. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that travel services of any description did not get into the top 50, especially considering the poor health (i.e. congestion and delays) of the UK’s road and rail network. In fact, National Rail was the highest placed in 70th, closely followed by Transport for London (71st) and The Trainline (75th). The highest ranking airline was BA in 77th.

The most popular food and drink service on mobile is Domino’s Pizza, but is clearly not a priority for UK mobile users as it was just outside the top 50, and the only provider in its category to make the top 100.

A surprising omission was the automotive industry, with only BMW attracting one nomination.

Our latest white paper includes also an in-depth analysis of the three most popular categories on mobile according to Uk users: Social Media, Banking and Shopping. Download Oxygen8 group free Whitepaper here

 

Mobile Business ReSolutions for 2015

Shortly we’ll be making our New Year resolutions, whether they are to enjoy life more, strike a better work life balance, go to the gym or get healthier…. but what about our professional ambitions? What have you considered changing in 2015? Have you thought about developing a new mobile strategy?

If you’re active on Twitter, LinkedIn and G+ then you’ll have noticed a significant increase in the volume of posts and articles from suppliers and thought leaders predicting the evolution of Mobile payments in 2015. Read more

SMS as a practical and realistic m-learning technology

In the last decade, mobile wireless technologies have presented a chance to improve students’ learning experience that extends beyond the traditional teacher-led classroom.

A recent research conducted by the British Journal of Education Technology has revealed that students receiving short-mini lessons on their mobile devices via SMS were improving quicker than their counterparts who were learning through traditional methods.

The experiment aimed to test the efficiency of teaching English idioms via SMS in comparison with other traditional methods such as contextual learning and self-study approaches. Read more

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