The debate appears to be over about consumer’s willingness to adopt mobile payments.
The Mobile Banker from the American Banker published an article about Mobile Payment Systems also known as Mobile Payment Solutions or simply as Mobile payments.
The article stresses the importance mobile payments, contactless payments, Near Field Communication (NFC) and related mobile services will play in the coming years. According to the article as much as 20% of all credit/debt transactions could be mobile or an alternative by the year 2012.
What is interesting is who is leading the change and how the change is being executed in the marketplace.
Before the discussion around mobile phone payments was dominated by the question of how will the value chain be sorted out or more specifically how will all the players share the profits. The players being the merchants, source of fund providers (banks, credit card Companies, stored value), customers and mobile network operators.
The argument or concern was that until this question was answered, mobile payments would remain stalled, especially in geographies such as North America.
MasterCard is helping to answer this question by facilitating the infrastructure upgrades vs. negotiating how much of the transaction they are willing to forfeit.
MasterCard is working directly with specific retailers to upgrade their Point of Sale (POS) systems. Currently, MasterCard is working with Home Depot, Hess retailers and Sports Authority to upgrade over 3,200 locations to accept payments from mobile handsets, NFC cards, NFC mobile phones and the like.
If the retailers are willing to work with the credit card companies to upgrade the infrastructure, it leaves little room for the MNO’s to add value. Mobile Operators are going to have to get creative if they expect to share in any revenue generated by contactless or mobile payments.
They may need to quickly re-focus their efforts on something like reserving screen space for mobile marketing or working on how they can assist mobile loyalty schemes.
As encouraging a sign as the trends indicate about the future of mobile payments, this has to be equally discouraging to all mobile operators who are currently struggling through negotiations on how to share in the revenue stream.
As the merchants, processors and card networks appear to be willing to make the investment to upgrade the POS systems, operators around the globe currently in NFC/mobile payment trails whether they are successful or not must be concerned.
I would not want to be at the negotiating table as the POS systems begin their upgrades.
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