Mobile Contactless Payments Gain Momentum

October 28, 2008

Next week the 2008 CARTES & IDentification conference kicks off in Paris, France. CARTES is the world leading show for banking technologies & eTransactions & this year they are giving special attention to mobile & contactless payment solutions. This year’s event should be quite exciting for all involved given the high number of mobile & contactless payment solutions that have deployed in many countries & that went into prototype here in the United States.

We’ve been following the contactless payment industry for almost two years now & we continue to see an abundance of new contactless solutions develop. Combine contactless solutions to what has emerged in the mobile space these past 18-months with the introduction of smart phones such as Apple’s iPhone & I can assure you that contactless mobile solutions are closer in sight than many predicted.

Just last month, Juniper Research published a study titled, “Mobile Payment Markets: Contactless NFC 2008-2013”. Key points from this report include:

– By 2013, the global mobile subscribers with NFC phones will reach 700 million
– FeliCa-enabled phones riding on Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, & SoftBank’s network dominate this market. Juniper estimates that roughly 50 million FeliCa NFC enabled phones have shipped to date.
– Juniper predicts that North America, Western Europe, & the Far East & China will be the dominate regions by 2013.

This Juniper study also reiterated some of my own concerns about the roadblocks that currently exist in this Near Field Communications (NFC) mobile market. The first & most obvious concern stated by Juniper was the lack of NFC phones on the market. The report also pointed to the lack of NFC readers installed at merchant locations as the second roadblock. An additional concern that I have is that consumers & merchants have yet to be properly educated on how NFC works. I dialogue with a number of smart & tech savvy people each day & I’ve realized that NFC is still an unknown technology. To my surprise, some of the people I dialogue with aren’t even familiar with the term NFC.

Hence the reason I am so delighted when I read reports that indicate that NFC trials here in the U.S. continue to show progress. One of the best examples & one that got a lot of attention was the NFC trial conducted with riders of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) in San Francisco. For four months (January 28 – May 30, 2008), BART riders were provided NFC equipped phones to pay for their transportation costs. These same NFC enabled phones allowed participants taking part in the trial to make payments at participating Jack in the Box restaurants & to download directions from NFC enabled posters inside BART terminals. Full results from the NFC trial with BART can be viewed in this Yahoo Finance article.

As more NFC trials are conducted here in the U.S., NFC will gain adoption by consumers. Retailers are already beginning to acknowledge the benefits associated with NFC payments & are favoring them over traditional Point of Sale (POS) swipe solutions.

I suspect as next week’s CARTES & IDentification show gets underway, we will see a growing number of devices & articles pointing to the market that exists for contactless mobile payment solutions.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

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Mobile Payments Market Forecast for 2013

September 8, 2008

Last week Juniper Research released a new report forecasting the growth of the Mobile Payments Market through 2013. The study projects that purchases using Near Field Communications (NFC) enabled phones coupled with money transfers are likely to total $600 billion globally by 2013. Howard Wilcox, the author of this report, points to the continued growth in mobile subscriber penetration & the availability of exciting & easy to use services as the driving forces to this type of growth.

Wilcox concluded that today’s mobile market is mostly dominated by the purchase of digital good such as games, ringtones, & music. The new opportunities in this space will include the future of NFC, mobile money transfer (MMT), & the purchase of physical goods via the mobile device. The report suggested that the Far East & China, western Europe, & North America will represent more than 70% of global MMT gross transaction value by 2013.

In order for this market to mature at the rate suggested by Juniper we’ll need to see a number of things fall into place. The good news is that the mobile operators can now support the bandwidth & speeds that these mobile payment applications will require. Also, mobile operating systems such as Symbian, Apple, & Windows Mobile are now open for us to develop these new mobile payment applications.

So what pieces to this puzzle are we still missing?

The mobile device manufacturers such as Nokia, Samsung, RIM, & Apple need to begin releasing new phones with NFC technologies built in. Without these devices in the market, retailers will not begin updating their existing Point of Sale (POS) infrastructure to accept contactless payments. Once released, the device manufacturers will need to make these new mobile NFC enabled devices affordable. Unless people are purchasing these new mobile devices, the retailers will still be reluctant to update their existing POS solutions.

Beyond the mobile devices & the POS infrastructure consumers need to be educated. Consumers must understand how these new mobile payment solutions will work, the value in using these solutions, & most importantly the consumer needs to be convinced that these solutions are safe & secure. There have been far too many reports of identity theft for consumers not to wonder how this solution is safer than what they are using today.

For those of us partaking in this new market the sky is the limit. Of course we still have some obstacles to navigate & it’s going to require platform providers like NetworkIP, mobile device manufacturers, mobile service providers, retailers, application developers, & the banking & credit card companies to all work together.


Contactless & Mobile Technologies at the Presidential National Conventions

September 3, 2008

Last week’s Democratic National Convention (DNC) was interlaced with contactless & mobile technology from beginning to end.

First Data kicked the convention off by introducing their new GO-Tag; an innovative electronic sensor that is small enough to transform any device into a contactless payment solution. The GO-Tag which was distributed in the form of a small button at the DNC allowed the 5,000 lucky journalists & delegates who received them the ability to “purchase” free snacks & drinks by tapping their GO-Tag button on electronic sensors at concession stands installed throughout Denver’s Pepsi Center. In a recent BusinessWeek article, Michael Capellas, First Data’s CEO, is placing a major bet on the fast-emerging world of mobile electronic commerce. According to the article, the GO-Tag project is one of five new ventures that Capellas has launched since he took over First Data. The other four projects include information analysis, customer-loyalty programs, fraud detection, & consumer-behavior prediction. The article went on to say that Capellas believes that mobile commerce could add more than a $100 million to First Data’s revenues in 2009.

Then there was Senator Barack Obama who announced Joe Biden as his vice-presidential pick with a text message. Nielsen Mobile described this text message based ad campaign as “the single largest mobile marketing event in the U.S., to date.” Nielsen estimates that 2.9 million U.S. mobile phone subscribers received the text message launched by Obama’s campaign. Obama supporters can still sign-up for future text messages from Obama’s campaign by texting “GO” to short code 62262 (spells OBAMA). Supporters can even subscribe to specific types of information updates by texting specific keywords such as “HEALTH”, “EDUCATION”, etc. For more information about Obama’s mobile campaign you can visit Obama’s web site & while you are there you can even download wallpapers & ring tones for your mobile phone too.

Delegates attending both the Democratic & Republican National Convention also made good use of their mobile phones for communicating events from the convention. They sent & are continuing to send text messages to services such as Twitter which in-turn distributes these messages from the convention to their “followers”. These same people are also shooting short video, audio, & taking pictures with their mobile phones & then uploading them to their blogs as mobile blog entries (“moblogs” for short).

These are just a handful of examples on how contactless & mobile technologies are being used in larger scale mediums such as our current presidential election & more importantly these two technologies are increasingly becoming a part of our everyday landscape.


Product Education is Key to Your Success

July 24, 2008

A recent Cardbeat report from Auriemma Consulting Group reported that “contactless credit cards that allow cardholders to wave-&-pay at checkout terminals fitted with contactless technology sensors is not yet the smash-hit that industry leaders had expected.” The report also suggested that “consumers have indicated that contactless technology is not an easy sell. In light of the credit crunch, and increasing insecurity about the risk of identity theft, consumers need additional encouragement to acquire a new card – even if it features a compelling new technology.”

Other highlights from the report included that only 3% of the population is familiar with contactless technology & that 23% of consumers interviewed would not use contactless cards due to concerns with identity theft.

Like any new technology that is introduced, education about that technology is needed. Granted we do live in a digital age & IT gadgets are popping up everywhere; however, you can’t expect consumers to gravitate to your product if they don’t understand how to use it & more importantly if they are scared to use it.

Contactless payments offer a significant convenience factor for the consumer. Not only are they able to process their payments quicker, they are also able to reduce the amount of “stuff” that they have to carry with them on a daily basis. As this contactless payment solution finds its way to mobile phones — trust me, it’s coming — such a product will be even more attractive to the consumer.

I was in a big box office supply store a couple of weeks ago when I spotted a contactless payment setup at the check-out counter. I asked the clerk behind the counter how often customers use the contactless payment service. She said that in the 6-months that she worked at the store she has only had 2 to 3 customers use it & every time it’s been used something went wrong & she ended up manually typing in credit card information.

I know a bit about the solution that was deployed in this store & I doubt that the system wasn’t working. I believe it was the clerk (the retailer) that didn’t know what she was doing that was causing the problem. This example makes matters even worse. The consumer obviously had the education about the product & decided to adopt that product, but when clerks at stores for example don’t know anything about the product or how to support your product it does the consumer no good to use it. So not only is consumer education important, but education to those that are providing & servicing new products need to be educated.

Regardless of how great your product is & even if it does provide a solution to a problem, do *not* expect overnight success unless your market & the market distributing your product is well educated on the product you are offering.