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Archive for June, 2011

Two Mobile Commerce Trends

June 15, 2011 in Uncategorized | Comments (1)

There are two interesting trends I’m seeing taking shape in mobile commerce worldwide. The first is that we’re seeing a lot more person-to-person (P2P) payments. I’m not talking about just international remittance, which we’ve already seen with Western Union and other traditional remittance players entering the mobile space. I’m talking about domestic P2P. Whereas Western Union and others focus primarily on the migrant workforces around the world sending money back home, a lot of what we’re seeing now is being used more broadly, similar to PayPal. Last month in the U.S., we saw Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo announce “clearXchange,” which allows customers to move funds from their checking accounts to the accounts of friends and family members using mobile numbers or email addresses. Solutions like this are in direct competition with PayPal. In Australia, where I travelled recently to meet with the banks, PayPal now has over six million subscribers—out of a population of around 20 million people. You can imagine how the big four banks in Australia feel about that!

Second, we’re seeing a lot of interest in linking mobile to cards. The idea of linking someone’s mobile phone to a virtual credit card or physical pre-paid card is starting to get a lot of traction around the world with banks, mobile network operators (MNOs) and retailers. MNOs and banks are working together to make this happen. The net effect of this arrangement is that your mobile device can replace your wallet, rendering it unnecessary to carry plastic cards at all, unless you need them to interact with a point-of-sale (POS) terminal. And even that can be done using NFC or other technologies, as we’ve seen in North America with the Starbucks mobile payment application, which uses a two-dimensional barcode authentication at the POS terminal. One of our customers in EMEA has recently launched a project allowing any customer on the network to have a virtual “credit card” linked to the pre-paid balance of the customer’s handset, providing a much broader distribution base for the bank and a smaller fulfillment cost. These customers can make digital payments today. In the future, they’ll be able to purchase physical goods and services. I think this is a really interesting trend that we’ll continue to see develop.