By Jeffrey Peel – One of the discussions at Mobile World Congress last week that could be described as ‘hot’ was the one around mobile payments. It’s clear that, suddenly, there is a jockeying for position going on. (For a round-up of the various angles to the debate, this post by Philip Stanfield does a great job).
Long and short, everybody wants a share of the action. The killer statistic is that cash still accounts for a vast percentage of payments – north of 80%. But in rural Africa, the mobile phone has become an important means of exchange – but in a very simple way, enabled by SMS.
VISA is of the view that there’s a market opportunity at the heart of the “cash is still king” conundrum – but PayPal, Mastercard, the big banks, oh and Google, are all of a similar view.
However, the operators, too, feel that they are the prime contractors in the relationship. After all, a financial relationship has been established between subscriber and operator. And quite a few operators have grouped together to agree standards for mobile payments (see the media release from the Wholesale Applications Community here).
As to who will win is anybody’s guess – or perhaps it’s a case of horses for courses.
This interview by Eric Savitz, over at Forbes with Bill Sheedy of VISA, provides a neat summary of where we’re at in terms of mobile payments, and how VISA is likely to respond to the market opportunity.
- 4 mobile payments startups to watch (venturebeat.com)
- Sprint Confirms Creation of Mobile Bill Payment App for Boost Mobile (mobilemarketingwatch.com)
- Mobile Payments Could Provide a Big Boost to Retail Brands (bulletproofblog.com)