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Right to cheap data needs addressing

March 18, 2014 • Opinion

Latest statistics from World Wide Worx reveal that 90% of the 6.4 million South Africans who access the internet in South Africa rely solely on an internet connection on their mobile phones. As such, the theme of this year’s World Consumer Rights Day – “the rights of mobile technology users” – being celebrated in March, is highly relevant in South Africa.

Kevin Hurwitz, Chief Executive Officer of Wonga.com South Africa (image: Wonga)

Kevin Hurwitz, Chief Executive Officer of Wonga.com South Africa (image: Wonga)

According to Kevin Hurwitz, Chief Executive Officer of Wonga.com South Africa, when it comes to protecting the consumer rights of mobile technology users, reducing the high cost of access to data in South Africa should be the number one priority. “Access to cost-effective data should be a basic right to consumers, not a luxury.”

People aged between 18 and 24 years spend 23% of their bill on staying connected to the internet, according to World Wide Worx. In addition, prepaid users spend an average of R155 a month, while contract users pay an average of R364 per month on data.

With such a high percentage of mobile phone spend going towards data usage, South African consumers should demand cheaper access to data on their mobile phones, as well as faster broadband, says Hurwitz. “We urge regulators, industry bodies and telecommunications service providers to work together to make data more affordable to serve the rights of South African consumers.”

He adds that the uptake of mobile usage is increasing globally, largely due to cheaper mobile devices being created thanks to mass production and advancements in technology. “The predominant use of mobile phones as a means to access the internet in South Africa points to the simple fact that mobile access to services is the future in the country.”

With more and more of these consumers using their mobile devices to transact, it is critical for businesses to ensure that they have mobile strategies in place that consider the rights and needs of their customers, says Hurwitz. “As a digital finance company, we recognise the importance for our service to be available to all South Africans in need of cash, on the move or otherwise, and we believe that no matter what kind of device you own, you should be able to benefit from our fast, simple and convenient online service.”

He says the advancement of mobile technology has allowed for easier access to information for all South Africans, not just those with smartphones and tablets. “This is why we developed a mobi site which is designed specifically with feature phones in mind to assist the simple application process and user experience,” concludes Hurwitz.

Staff writer

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