Mobile player scores with SMS

6 Jan 2004

A small Dublin start-up is beginning to make waves in the mobile industry in the UK, eastern Europe and Asia by reducing the complexity involved in managing the mobile services that are becoming ingrained in people’s day-to-day lives.

Self-financed application services provider (ASP) Agile was established in May by two-man team CEO Enda Kyne and chief technology officer Lee Travers and is located at the former WorldPort data centre in Blanchardstown where it hosts its applications for customers in Europe and Asia.

The company is involved in developing applications that will give football supporters within a stadium or at home the power to interact directly with the TV network broadcasting the football match as well as allowing concert-goers to buy and collect their tickets wirelessly and with minimal human contact.

Agile was set up specifically to remove the barriers to putting in place a mobile payments platform and enable enterprises to use intelligent wireless services without the headaches that go hand in hand with owning a complex and sophisticated infrastructure. Both Kyne and Travers have a combined 25 years’ management and research and development experience locally and internationally in companies such as Compaq, Novell, Vision and Cap Gemini and start-up ventures such as Digital Channel Partners, MobileAware and Network365.

In fact, as Travers explains, the company’s hosted software platform is based on m-payment technology from Network365, the Irish company that has implemented its mobile technology on networks throughout the world. “There are more collaborations being formed between telecoms companies and financial institutions where no single party wants the responsibility of the sophisticated infrastructure required to deliver a mobile payments services and all parties want a rapid time to market for their services,” he explains. “Take for example the trend towards combined billing where everything from electricity, internet access and phone calls are put together. Individuals are actually finding themselves stunned when they open their bills and finding the cost of the combined bill astronomical. We are in talks with mobile companies in Eastern Europe that realise that the value of the billing could be split off in different directions for different services to appease the cost concerns of the consumer and allow them to get value in other ways,” Travers adds.

Kyne explains that the company is evaluating other services such as bar codes that can be sent by MMS (multimedia messaging service) to the phones of concert-goers and football supporters that can be scanned as tickets when they are entering the venue.

Apart from Travers and Kyne in Dublin, Agile employs a further 19 people in Pakistan engaged in software development. Among the products being developed by the company is its Agile Match-Time technology, a m-payments technology that allows broadcasters, sports clubs, national sporting bodies and organisations to generate revenue and a greater sense of community using mobile phone subscriber text messages, picture messaging and mobile payments. Aimed at unlocking new revenue opportunities without the need for new capital investment, the company is currently in talks with a number of European soccer clubs to deploy the technology to allow supporters attending a game to vote and comment, get news and promotions, play competitions, buy goods and participate in club lotteries.

As well as this, sponsors and stadium advertisers can use the location technology of GSM phones to offer promotions and services at a discount based on the supporter’s location. Clubs can generate revenue from short messaging service, MMS and TV data and the sale of new services while club management can set the balance for stadium voting to cater for away fans.

Agile is also in talks with TV and broadcasters about using the technology to combine the review votes and comments from those attending or watching the game with live broadcasts and allow supporters and viewers to participate in the broadcast.

Kyne explains: “Most soccer clubs already have mobile operators as partners. This technology allows them to create new revenue streams that complement their existing services. So far we have three clubs in Holland, Belgium and England that are going to implement the technology in January.”

Another technology being championed by the innovative Dublin company is Agile MTU, its mobile call credit top-up technology that has already resulted in a landmark deal with Cable & Wireless in Guernsey. The technology allows mobile phone customers to purchase a credit voucher stored in a virtual wallet that is accessible through the mobile user’s mobile phone. Kyne comments: “Although mobile payment platforms are already established in Asia, across Europe and the Middle East, we are seeing a groundswell of consumer demand for and expectation of wireless data services from their mobile phone operators. Cable & Wireless in Guernsey is positioning itself as a pioneer in this sector with this new approach to subscriber payment for non-voice services, the applications of which are immense.”

He adds: “It won’t be long before people are buying day-to-day consumer goods over their mobile phones or indeed transacting person-to-person mobile payments. We are witnessing a movement from a relatively immature market to a rapidly growing one as mobile phone operators and financial institutions position themselves for payment transactions enabled through mobile devices.”

By John Kennedy