During his talk at Mobile Content & Services conference yesterday, Kumar Apoorva, COO, ValueFirst, said that he had recently met a very large IT company that is working with the Indian government on a project for getting secure mobile votes through a voice call. The project might be 4-5 years away. “They will look to roll out a pilot in the next 3-4 years, for a location where there is low voter turnout. The way it works is that voters will receive a call, and be asked to press a requisite key for selecting a candidates. If mobile commerce can be secure, then why not voting?” Kumar asked. He declined to name the company in question.

Kumar also highlighted the trend of simplification of services – saying that services like Twitter, MyToday and SMS Gupshup have achieved is scale through dumbing down, instead of focusing on a complex portfolio of apps, video and rich media. Mobile technology is mutating in different forms – it’s allowing richer data, but there is a lot that can already be done with existing mobile services. “Consumers want simpler services,” he said. On Telecom operator relationships, he said “I have a lop sided view that there is this coersion that takes place as far as the partnership between enterprises and operators is concerned. I am yet to see a situation where operators, content providers and enterprises have partnered and really embraced and created a particular service or product. Explosion will really happen if services are either accepted or supported by operators, or at least not squeezed.”

One last trend Kumar highlighted is of multi-modality, where he believes that there is a tremendous off-take of the interplay between SMS, Email and Voice – people driving SMS to drive usage to their email product, or a voice call and supplementing with an SMS.

Update:

With reference to the comment left – I agree, it does sound highly improbable. One of the issues with mobile voting is verification of the voter – a mobile phone cannot be the key identifier of an individual because a handset can be stolen, number changed, among others. However, one option where it might just work is where you have a mobile phone as a voting device – lets say a user will have to enter his/her Unique ID number (which, as we know, will be randomly generated) to start the process, and then vote accordingly. The issue I have with a voice based system is that by the time a voter hears the name of, say, 15 candidates, how will he/she remember which number is which?