Ghana’s leading players in the mobile applications sector, have joined forces under an umbrella body to ensure quality of service and sanity in the mobile Value Added Services (VAS) sector.
The group, calling itself the Wireless Applications Service Providers Association of Ghana (WASPAG), consists of some major players in the industry such as Mobile Content.com, SMSGH, Rancard Solutions, MTech Communications, Nosmay, TXT Ghana and MediaEdge-gsm.
They have all signed on to a very comprehensive Code of Ethics published on the WASPAG website – www.waspag.com with a determination to protect end users against bad practices and the abuse in the system.
These are organisations, which develop, deploy, market and manage various wireless and mobile applications that serve subscribers across all Ghana networks.
The services they provide include bulk sms, group messaging, banking and commerce, lifestyle and entertainment, social media, micro-billing for digital goods like music downloads, mobile application downloads and others, plus mobility solutions and a several others; and their services are deployed over SMS, MMS, Voice, USSD, WAP and GPRS/Internet.
In effect, members of WASPAG constitute the main back office engine for the wireless/mobile-based VAS for all the telecom operators in Ghana, for banks, insurance companies, event organizers, even some handset makers, media houses and practically anybody or entity which has any digital product or service to provide within the WASP environment.
Members of WASPAG have over the years worked separately and successfully without any common set of code of ethics, but they now feel the need to join forces and self regulate to consolidate the gains made, and more importantly, to prevent abuse of clients and also secure the interest of genuine industry players against the bad nuts.
Director of Regulatory Affairs for WASPAG, who is also General Manager of Mobile Content.com, Conrad Nyuur said on Tuesday that WASPAG members were becoming concerned about the influx of individuals who sit in Ghana or abroad using overseas gateways to send bulk mobile/wireless content to people in Ghana at midnight and charge them without end-users’ permission and therefore create a bad name for genuine industry players.
“These nefarious quarks are for instance responsible for phone users receiving SMS or some mobile content from short codes they did not subscribe to and getting charged for it.
“There have also been instances where phone users subscribe to short code service and get charged regularly but never get the service, while others also subscribe to SMS banking service but never get service even though they get charged for it, and some of them are down to pure fraud where some fake WASPs pretend to be organizations they are not and send messages on behalf of that organization.
“Most of these fake players are not registered locally and yet they operate WASP services here and some of them send unsavory and deceptive messages/content on behalf of unidentifiable clients to unsuspecting Ghanaians. We are concerned that such activities will make the National Communication Authority (NCA) jump on all of us one of these days and that will not be good for our industry,” Nyuur said.
He noted that the WASP industry in Ghana was only about 10 years old and still an emerging one but the challenges it was facing from infiltrators were a threat to its survival.
Nyuur said the rationale for forming WASPAG, therefore, was to bring all genuine locally registered players within the WASP ecosystem together for effective self regulation through the Code of Ethics, and to assist the NCA to apply the rules more effectively to weed out the bad nuts.
He said WASPAG would also establish an infrastructure for collecting feedback from the public and that would assist members to deal with public complaints long before it even gets to the telecom network or the regulator, adding that phone users could also report abuses on the WASPAG website www.waspag.com.
“Our Code of Ethics for instance empowers our members to filter the ID of anyone using members’ networks to distribute mobile content and when we find that consumers rights are being violated we are required to either report or block that person’s access,” he said.
He said WASPAG would also provide economies of scale for the local industry players because it would eventually ensure that only locally registered players are allowed to operate in Ghana and that would mean overseas players would need local partners to operate in Ghana.
“This can create business for the genuine locally registered WASPs,” he said.
Nyuur said WASPAG was therefore lobbying all the players in the local WASP industry to get onboard the WASPAG train to ensure a wider and broader application of the Code of Ethics to ensure sanity and quality of service in the industry.
WASPAG is an independent, non-profit self-regulatory body established in December 2012 with a remit of representing and self-regulating mobile-based value added services providers, otherwise known as WASPs. It is recognized by the Ghana Telecoms Chamber, all mobile network providers in Ghana, the National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Government.
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