Recent Blogs

Tomorrow’s Transactions Toronto Unconference 2013
Real World Cloud NFC Mobile Payments
Is Bitcoin the Gateway to Mobile Money?
Why NFC mobile payments aren’t dead yet
Mobile Money Trust Issues
Searching for Global Financial Inclusion Pioneers
October Mobile Money Round Up
Complex eco-systems only works in equilibrium. An argument for us
Mobile Money being used in retail applications.
Facebook Teams Up with Payment Providers for Autofill with Facebo

Breaking Mobile Financial News

Tomorrow’s Transactions Toronto Unconference 2013 December 13, 2013, 4:53 pm

 

Dec. 11, 2013 - Following the success of last year’s Digital Money Unconference sold out event, this year’s Tomorrow’s Transactions Toronto Unconference 2013 was held on December 11, 2013 at the MaRS Discovery District. Organized by Sparq Collective (Debbie Gamble and Pierre A. Roberge) and Consult Hyperion, the event was hosted by David Birch, one of Wired magazine's global top 15 favourite sources on finance and business news and Europe's most influential commentator on the emerging payments scene.

The event was organized on a participant-driven agenda leveraging the “unconference” format where the discussion topics were decided on the day of the conference, instead of the more traditional succession of pre-determined PowerPoint presentations.  The “unconference” format laid ground for stimulating group discussion sessions from industry professionals and thought-leaders amongst eight chosen topics in relation to the Canadian market: Mobile Technology, Mobile Point-of-Sales (mPOS), Alternative Currencies (Digital Currency), Business Innovation (Startups), Security, Customer Experience, Retailer Experience, and Canadian Market.

Across the diverse range of topics, a few common themes came up in the discussions:

Mobile Payments:
Convenience, value-added services, and consolidation of finances are driving factors for mobile payments. mPOS solutions will offer a more affordable payment acceptance solution for retailers, ...

Real World Cloud NFC Mobile Payments December 3, 2013, 7:45 pm

I went on a shopping spree yesterday using my Nexus 7 Android tablet to pay via NFC.

I wanted to test out KitKat’s new NFC abilities provided by SimplyTapp, which is in all official Android builds going forward. I also wanted to compare making payments using Google Wallet and an experimental app.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Android 4.4 KitKat no longer requires a hardware secure element. This is called host-based card emulation (HCE). Importantly, this means wireless carriers no longer control provisioning cards for NFC payments.

Mobile carriers are now just one of many types of organizations that can provision virtual payment cards onto NFC-enabled devices. Plus this means no more annoying trips to your carrier’s retail store to get an “enhanced” SIM card to enable mobile payments.

Now banks, retailers, loyalty card companies, card networks – and anyone else who wants to – can embed payment functionality into their applications.

Of course, this means they have to provide a lot of back-end services and integrations with payment processors. But it’s now possible and it works.

I went shopping to ...

Is Bitcoin the Gateway to Mobile Money? December 3, 2013, 8:33 am

If you are involved in mobile money at all, you’ve likely been keeping a keen eye on Bitcoin. The controversial digital currency is getting a lot of attention around the world and raising a lot of questions about the how it will fit (if at all) with mobile money.

At the AfricaCom 2013 event earlier this month, Pelle Braendgaard, the co-founder of the Kipochi Bitcoin wallet and transfer service shared his belief that Bitcoin could be a “facilitator between mobile money platforms.”  Kipochi launched a Bitcoin to M-Pesa transfer service back in July, but the service was shut down two weeks later. Speculation was that Safaricom was under pressure from Vodafone.

Braendgaard has correctly pointed out a major sticking point in the adoption of mobile money - the fact that systems are not compatible so consumers are bound by the platform they use.  With mobile money remittance market growing rapidly, this is a major barrier to success in the long-term as consumers need flexibility.

Is Bitcoin the answer to facilitating transactions between mobile money systems?

While Bitcoin has been the currency of choice for black market dealings to date, there’s signs that the currency may be gaining ...

Why NFC mobile payments aren’t dead yet November 22, 2013, 3:13 pm

Android 4.4 KitKat puts NFC on life support

NFC fatigue seems like it’s almost become rigor mortis in my conversations with issuers and merchants over the last few years. But, just maybe, that’s changing.

We’ve been stuck in a deadlock where carriers tightly control handset payments hardware but won’t accept the necessary risk to extend enough credit to consumers to make a mobile wallet useful. In fairness, this likely means acquiring or partnering with one or more banks and creating a number of complicated business relationships. But in the end, it’s been a big-fat roadblock that’s nearly killed mobile payments and NFC in particular.

Furthermore, until now, NFC secure element design has required physical hardware  connections in a design holdover from pre-smartphone days. Just look at the long-awaited Isis launch instructions. You have to physically go into your carrier’s store to upgrade your SIM card to communicate with the NFC chip in your phone. Most of the Isis software is actually running on that SIM card and there’s no good way to get it from the carrier and onto your existing SIM card. Plus there may be hardware changes to the Java ME operating ...

Mobile Money Trust Issues  November 20, 2013, 7:50 am

Just read an interesting article on the South African based site Business Insight on how consumers are not warming up to mobile money. It cites research that indicates mobile payments are the cheapest mode of transacting, yet there’s a major trust issue with consumers when it comes to mobile money or commerce.

But here’s the catch. The issue is in markets that have access to online and in person banking such as South Africa. In unbanked markets around the world, mobile money has gained significant traction transforming how they do business and their access to resources.

Many questions come to mind when assessing this situation, is the issue really trust or is it a lack of education with these consumers?  Do operators need to do a better job demonstrating the benefits of using mobile money?

There’s a lot at stake when you consider the sheer cost of cash handling costs. The article cites research from Mastercard which found that cash handling costs eat into a country’s gross domestic product by between 0.6 percent and 1.5 percent.

Another key question is around the ease of use. It is that the system is too complex so they default to an easier method? When you ...

Searching for Global Financial Inclusion Pioneers November 12, 2013, 1:01 pm

My co-author, Karl Mehta and I have both been working for years in the exciting field of mobile financial services. Reflecting on what has already happened, one can see the world reshaping. And yet, it is only the beginning.

But it has given us a view of what is possible. Our book Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid will spotlight what is happening today around the globe – which we think you will agree is quite extraordinary. The future of financial services is emerging – it is just not evenly distributed.

So much innovation is taking place, even in the most unlikely places. Who would have predicted that Kenya would become a leader in mobile banking innovation – but it is. We want to seek out all the best examples of financial inclusion in the world.

We need your help finding them. We don’t want to be limited to our networks and knowledge. We want to surface all the best examples – and showcase them. This will benefit the larger effort and will definitely benefit the people and companies involved. Emerging successes no longer have to be on an “A” list in Silicon Valley to be discovered. The world should ...

October Mobile Money Round Up  October 31, 2013, 12:39 pm

 October has been a busy month around the world for mobile money, and we wanted to share a few of our favorite stories with you.

 From the Mobile World Live Website - Great coverage of Zahir Khoja, CEO of Mobile Payment Solutions keynote at GSMA Mobile 360-Middle East.  During the session Khoja discussed the need for innovation and to listen to customer needs to actually drive results in the market. You can read the full article here.

 From Telecomms.com - A new study from Juniper Research found that Mobile Money Transfer will top $10 billion in 2013. The article provides some great insight into the issue around the lack of mobile wallets and what actions providers need to take.

Bloomberg TV - A look at Google’s Mobile Money and how they are transitioning ad revenue to try to cash in on the mobile ad market.

...

Complex eco-systems only works in equilibrium. An argument for using Chaos Theory in Mobile Payments. October 22, 2013, 11:42 am

Equilibrium is a beautiful state for any eco-system to be in. In this state, all participants are participating and growing at the same rate. In a state of non-equilibrium, the dynamics are moving and some participants may eventually either die or be diminished to something much smaller. Equilibrium in small eco-systems with little participants can be achieved more easily, for instance by making small changes in some of the rules or contributions. The behaviour is also, most often, predictable. In eco-systems with many components and many possible combinations, it is often not easy to find a state of equilibrium. The behaviour is also often not predictable. Making a small change some-where can potentially lead to changes that was not easy to predict. (This observation is the basis of Chaos Theory).   The questions to be asked is, is mobile money eco-systems complex eco-systems (are there many participants - sometimes with unpredictable behaviour) and would we prefer mobile money eco-systems to be in a state of equilibrium. It is my view that the answer to both is yes. Unfortunately the complexity of the mobile money eco-systems (many participants, some behaving in unpredictable ways) makes ...

Mobile Money being used in retail applications. October 22, 2013, 11:27 am

The spectacular growth of mobile wallets in emerging markets have been because of a big need in these markets. How to pay for things remotely (like airtime or bills), how to get money over a distance (like in remittances or person to person payments) and other challenges. As the penetration grew, more and more applications of the digital payment platforms were being developed - some of them very innovative.

Lately, there has been a drive to find solutions for using mobile to pay in a retail environment. These types of payments are mostly done in cash (and sometimes using traditional card solutions). While the existing solutions work well, they are still open to fraud and theft. Utilising the existence of many mobile money wallets in retail environments seems to be a logical next step. Many solutions have been deployed in this domain. Some have shown acceptable traction, but we are still waiting to see the big breakthrough. The challenge is to design a solution that is easy to operate, safe and fast. This is not so easy in a world where (almost) no phones have any NFC capabilities.

Facebook Teams Up with Payment Providers for Autofill with Facebook October 15, 2013, 8:48 am

Last week TechCrunch reported that Facebook has partnered with PayPal, Stripe and Braintree, along with two e-commerce apps JackThreads and Mosaic. The goal of this partnership is to create “Autofill with Facebook” where your payment info from Facebook is automatically used when you check out at the click of a button.

When it comes to shopping on your mobile, this is a killer application as there won’t be all that annoying typing with two fingers. You can let Facebook fill out the info for you and then be on their way.

The only limitation to this is that the user will have to have billing info on file with Facebook - meaning they’ve bought a Facebook Gift, Credits or In-Game purchase.  The consumer can then hit the “checkout faster with Facebook” button and they are in business.  On the backend everything syncs up so that the purchase is made and the consumer just confirms the purchase.

While this may seem like an overly simple application for technology for mobile e-commerce, it is truly the perfect example of how something dead easy can make a key difference for consumers. For mobile money and mobile commerce to take ...

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