Mobivi: The cult of of the E-wallet


When it comes to E-commerce development in Vietnam’s market, the same sentiment is shared across the industry: online payment is what holds us all back. Mobivi is coming to our rescue, only to find that it’s no blockbuster whatsoever.

Mobivi is a recent online payment startup with a great product: “E-wallet” that is built around very strong (even world-class) technology inherited from a slew of veteran technologists who have had decades of experience in related fields here in Vietnam and elsewhere.Want an example?

Phạm Ngọc Đức, CTO, has had 21 years in high-tech industries working in supercomputing, parallel processing, security, wired and wireless networking solutions for businesses, banks, and financial services. He’s got 6 patents and other 12 submissions in the above-mentioned fields. He graduated from Berkeley University, California with a Electrical Engineering degree.

However, a great product is not a guaranteed success, as pointed out by Jessy Farmer in his article: The cult of the product [], it is a combination of: a market, a product, and a distribution channel. You can check out his article first and come back here later. Or refer to the following example of Google with three simplified questions:

  1. Do they have a market? I bet you will say yes.
  2. Do they have a product? Google Search is undoubtedly the best of its kind to date.
  3. Do they know how to put it right in front of the customers? Enter a keyword, click Search, and there you go.

Let’s probe Mobivi with the same questions:

  1. Do they have a market? I guess they do. Eventually people will shift away from offline shopping to online methods of purchasing, be it goods or services. Disagree?
  2. Do they have a product? Talked about it earlier.
  3. Do they know how to put it right in front of the customers? Unfortunately, they DON’T.

Mobivi firmly believes that the best person to distribute the E-wallet to its customers are banks and stock brokerage houses. These financial services have a wide network nationwide with a whole lot of existing customers. Asking those banks to market E-wallet for them will be a killer marketing campaign: people sign up for a bank account, a banker then introduces the customer to E-wallet as a value-added service that allows them to purchase stuffs online. Great?

It all boils down to the service of individual bank staff who is serving at the counter. That’s where the problem lies. It’s common knowledge that Vietnamese services suck. Banking is not an exception. Why would I, as a banker, bother to introduce your E something to the bank customer? What kind of benefit do I get? My bank has all kinds of services that I myself have to deal with already. The economy is tough, my pay is low, I just don’t give it a damn. The customers don’t understand about this new kind of service. It takes ages for me to explain. I don’t get paid for that, it’s not my job. Questions like these, and problems like those, are that which force failure right into the throat of Mobivi.

What did Paypal do to get customers? They give $10 to every person signing up. Translation: you get something and get paid [$10]. Not much, but it doesn’t cost anything. It’s a positive incentive to sign up.

In Vietnam, people don’t have faith in online services because it’s simply NEW. They are heavily relying on CASH payment. So the work  is much harder to get them online. Yet, with the emergence of new e-commerce sites such as Vimua, and online payment companies, things are looking up.

Dedication Thanks to Dan for sharing the “Cult of the product” to me. Thanks to you-know-who-you-are for sharing your insights into Mobivi. You’re too busy so I take on the writing task for you :) .

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2 Responses to Mobivi: The cult of of the E-wallet

  1. Pingback: Fresco 2.0 » Blog Archive » Vietnam 2.0: A directory of online services

  2. Thái says:

    lolz sorry but I have to say that you don't know a damn thing about why Mobivi must let banks and stock brokerage houses handle customer registration for them. it's all about license dude. that's my hint, you should try harder to know what the real causes are.

    btw, I think Mobivi failed because there's no market here. yet. or maybe just because of bad luck. they targeted the stock market, but too bad for them, it's been falling like hell since then.

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