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Mobilepayment: the future of mobile communications?

Week 06, 2010

Remittance transfers attracted the attention of mobile network operators, to the extent that a couple years ago, they signaled they could bring a real added value, and started the “Pay-Buy Mobile” initiative (cf. Smart Insights Weekly #07-08). Over the last three years, mobile money has emerged into a strong business, with most prominent examples coming from Kenya and the Philippines, which are now replicated in the whole world. With these examples, mobile network operators have demonstrated their ability to manage financial flows, on an international basis.

Besides mobile money, micropayments will be developing fast in 2010, with the migration to mobile of existing payment solutions such as Paypal or TSYS, or the development of specific mobile applications such as MasterCard MoneySend service. A foundation stone has been set by the success of Apple’s AppStore that familiarizes customers with making low value payments from their handset.

As a specific form of micropayment, NFC technology signals a convergence between the worlds of mobile communication and financial institutions. Even if NFC has not yet soared as we anticipated it, the development of NFC technology has been helpful to bring bankers and MNOs to the same table. In 2010, most of the technology community expects real NFC rollouts to take place and to demonstrate, even better than pilots, the viability of the technology and business model.

Another event may play a central role in bringing together the worlds of payment and telecoms: the advent of tablet computers. Tablet computers, such as the Apple iPad, target content acquisition, and are equipped with communication means. Their success is bound to become the most widely spread architecture to develop mobile micropayments. With a combination of smart phones and tablet computers on the field, the need for NFC will be even more ubiquitous.

Thierry Spanjaard

Chief editor

Smart Insights