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What’s happening among the MEF membership? Here’s your weekly round up of all the latest announcements from MEF Members including product launches, partnerships, research insights and more…

OpenMarket: 49 percent of consumers would welcome chatbots

Nearly have of consumers would like to ‘talk’ to companies via text, says a new study from OpenMarket.

OpenMarket polled over 1,500 mobile users in the US and UK, and found that people would welcome chatbot-type communications. But it says companies are lagging behind.

It reveals 50 per cent of people do not get SMS notifications from financial institutions. It’s 75 per cent for travel and hospitality.

Jay Emmet, general manager for OpenMarket, said: “The survey findings prove that chatbots are more than a short-lived fad. They are an untapped mobile engagement solution that consumers and business could benefit from both from a convenience and financial perspective – a strategy that businesses should be incorporating into their 2017 customer experience initiatives.”

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Syntonic doubles reach of zero-rated data in the US

The two largest carriers in the US now offer the sponsored data app Freeway by Syntonic.

The app hosts content that can be enjoyed without incurring any data costs, which can be a deterrent to cash-strapped mobile users.

Syntonic says the new deal means its app can reach nearly 140 million Android and iOS devices. Freeway is also available in India, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Gary Greenbaum, CEO and Co-Founder of Syntonic. “Sponsored data business models are quickly gaining in popularity, and content providers are the immediate beneficiaries of our cross-carrier, multi-platform solution – giving them the reach and flexibility to deepen their engagement with massive audiences that want greater access to mobile content.”

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MMDSmart targets Asia Pacific with major new hire

A2P messaging company MMDSmart has appointed Edward Poon to head its newly-opened regional office in Hong Kong.

Poon, who was previously MD of Vodafone Partner Markets for North Asia, will manage a growing Asia Pac business for MMDSmart. In less than two years, the company has enjoyed double digit annual growth in the territory.

Arie Frenklakh, CEO of MMDSmart, said: “We’re excited that Edward Poon, who brings a wealth of industry knowledge and experience in the region, has joined our team. We are certain that he will continue to drive our organic growth, and expand our efforts in the region.”

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Wirecard to launch ‘boon’ in France

Germany’s Wirecard is bringing its NFC payment app to France, and it will be the first version in the euro area to support Apple Pay.

boon lets people pay by mobile contactless using a prepaid MasterCard. The app works at any NFC-enabled MasterCard terminal. Users can add their card to the Apple Wallet even if theirr house bank is not supported by Apple Pay.

“By launching boon with Apple Pay in France, even more users in Europe can experience a new level of mobile payments without being a customer of a specific bank, said Georg von Waldenfels, Executive Vice President Consumer Solutions with Wirecard.

Wirecard previously launched boon in Germany and the UK.

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F-Secure teams with Frontier on password management

US based Frontier has become one of the first operators to include F-Secure’s password tech in its portfolio.

It’s using F-Secure tech to power its new Frontier’s Secure PWD app, which stores a user’s login and generates unique passwords. Secure PWD lets users access these details on any device, at any time with a single password.

Brent Heilman, Director of Product Development for Frontier Secure, said: ”Secure PWD makes password management easy and painless; customers no longer have to compromise online security for convenience.”

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Mastercard targets African farmers with mobile payments platform

Farmers in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania can now buy, sell and receive payment for goods on feature phones thanks to Mastercard.

The firm’s new 2KUZE service connects buyers and sellers must more quickly and efficiently than in an open, physical, marketplace. Charity-backed Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion developed the scheme, which is describes as cashless agriculture.

Daniel Monehin, head of financial inclusion for International Markets at Mastercard, said: “We believe that by using mobile, a technology that is so ubiquitous among farmers in Africa, we can improve financial access, bring in operational efficiency and facilitate faster payments.”

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Calldorado hires new CMO

Bettina van Wylich-Muxoll has joined Calldorado in the newly created role of Chief Marketing Officer.

The new recruit has long experience in digital and has held senior roles at Nokia and music service TIDAL.

“We are thrilled to have a marketing executive of Bettina’s calibre join our global team,” says Claudia Dreier-Poepperl, CEO & Founder of Calldorado. “Her expertise spans marketing strategy and branding as well as hands-on execution.”

Calldorado offers an app that Android users can use to see the identity of a caller even if they are not a contact. Meanwhile if offers developers an SDK, so they can serve ads to the Caller ID screen at the end of a call.

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JT makes big investment in the Internet of Things

Channel Islands operator JT has paired up with Digital Jersey to build a Long-Range (LoRa) Wide Area Network.

This lets devices access the internet without 3G/4G or Wi-Fi. It means Islanders will be among the first people in the world to experience a world of connected things.

LoRa technology uses battery-operated sensors to power connections over long distances. So it can connect devices in environments that were previously out of reach.

Tom Noel, Managing Director of JT Wholesale, said: “LoRa is a relatively new technology but its potential in the IoT space is already considerable. IoT will fundamentally change how we live, work and do business.”

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