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Malaysian Case: E-Pay, An Analysis

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Question 1: What are the functions of "product families" in the cases of Toshiba and Sony Walkman?

In the above mentioned cases, "product families" were considered as vital and important to be combined and associated with appropriate strategies in achieving business sustainability. Purposeful strategizing based upon families of products has been empirically proven to increase a company's performance over time. In large corporations such as Toshiba and Sony, the existence of a favorable "internal" environment to support the development of products families and the use of appropriate strategies to manage their markets are critical. It is learned that having both the strategic vision and conducive environment for innovation led to success of the Toshiba's laptop and notebook families in the marketplace. In addition to this, the Sony Walkman's case portrayed that having multiple product models that are backed by a strategy that focused on their "longevity", which is having longer shelf lives compared to those of similar competitors' models are significant towards its success.

Question 2: What business is e-Pay in? Explain e-Pay's revenue and cost structure?

e-Pay involves in mobile prepaid system started with the electronic mobile prepaid top-up system that used wired platform and delivered via POS terminals. Its service family's grower further followed by a second platform innovation (wireless-based system). This includes top-up values delivered via mobile phones or PDAs especially to cater the markets in remote areas in Indonesia. E-Pay's expanded its service by introducing payment software solutions in 2004. The service family then completed by its fourth platform innovation (plastics cards applications) which finally turned the company into a comprehensive electronic payment provider. E- Pay's business is now serving multiple geographical markets, including Indonesia, Thailand, Pakistan and China.

e-Pay's revenue initiated from the margin of top-ups values that it sells to the retailers. The airtime values was bought in bulk from the telcos at a discounted rate that enable e-Pay to generate revenue margins based on their agreement. The retailers are also required to pay deposit for terminals installed at their sites. By early 2007, e-PAY had over 15,000 POS terminals and about 18,000 mobile agents (enterprising individuals or companies) for its wireless-based system. The company not only managed to dominate the local market but also expanded their business to Indonesia, Thailand, Pakistan and China. e-PAY was listed in Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) in 2005 and had also listed in the Alternative Investment Markets (AIM) in London. It had also expanded its product portfolio and generates income from selling of payment software solutions which have been sold worldwide by 2007. Previously, in 2005, e-PAY had launched its fourth platform innovation and generated revenue from plastics card application.

e-PAY's cost structure ranging from firms infrastructure (in Kuala Lumpur and Sydney), administration, human resources (IT, admin, operation personnel), research and technology development, software development, procurement of ICT hardware and software, logistics, operations, marketing and sales, after-sales service, maintenance and customer support. e-PAY also has to bear the cost of buying the airtime values in bulk from the telcos and distributing profit shares for the retailers.

Question 3: Describe e-PAY's original innovation.

The e-PAY's original innovation is an electronic terminal system-based mobile phone prepaid top-up system that connected the company's system to point-of-sale (POS) terminals located at multiple locations such as BP Amoco kiosks, 7-Eleven convenience store chains, Petronas, ProJet and Guardian pharmacy chains. The company acts as an intermediary between the mobile operators and the prepaid subscribers, by buying the prepaid values in large quantities from the operators and distributing them via the POS terminal systems. Distribution is performed using computer- generated PIN numbers and conducted upon the customers' requests. A PIN number is used as the "top-up" codes for a customer to add and maintain the required monetary value for a pre-paid mobile phone prior to its usage. This provides more convenience steps to the retailers, as they are able to avoid the problems associated with the physical-card management.

Question 4: How was it possible for e-PAY to achieve profitability within a short period of time (9 months)?

e-PAY had managed to achieve profitability within a short period time of 9 months due the following strategies and advantages;

* Exclusive agreement with DIGI which core business is prepaid mobile service has given them the advantage in dominating the market. It was the right strategy undertaken by e-PAY as DIGI major customers consist of prepaid subscribers that would fit the target market.

* Collaborations were simultaneously made with dealers of hand phone shops and the telcos. All parties involved which is e-PAY, retailers and telcos been able to enjoy the discounted rate, high availability and guaranteed profit margins in accordance to their agreements.

* The terminal system enables retailers to request for new PIN stocks automatically, which are delivered to their terminals in under 20 seconds. This allows them to make the stocks continuously available in contrary with the conventional physical-card environment.

* The system had also benefited retailers particularly in the East Malaysia that could overcome problems associated with logistics resulted from their remote locations.

* Audit trail function is also enabled by the usage of the terminal system to facilitate in producing daily transactions information.

* With the telcos continue to denominate their top-up amounts into smaller values; this online process is vital as it ease the top-up retail transactions which are hard to perform manually. This provides more convenience steps



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