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EDITOR’S BLOG 05-02-16 The death of m-payments

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Skeldon2014BWsmallHello and Happy Friday! Any doubts that mobile commerce isn’t the future of online selling have been quashed this Christmas. The latest raft of figures out following the holiday season show that 64% of retailer ecommerce traffic in the UK comes from mobile devices and, perhaps more tellingly, all the growth in ecommerce logged between December last year and December 2014 came from m-commerce.

Mobile is the way that consumers now choose to shop and engage with retailers.

Funny then that the world of m-payments, once so hot, is now barely mentioned. Of course a growing number of people, me included, are tapping their Apple pay for things in shops, but all the talk around wallets and loyalty and seamless mobile payments seems to have fallen by the wayside.

The reality is that existing m-payment tools – not least PayPal – are all coping just nicely with the switch to mobile and no one is really troubled by it. The increase in the number of people signing up to sites so that their payment details are remembered – plus the fact that many smart devices now keychain payment details for the user – and suddenly the need for new ways to pay seems to have died a death.

Of course, at telemedia we are concerned primarily with where carrier billing falls into this, but it too is going to suffer at the hands of this world where payment on mobile have been overcome by incumbants too. The lure of charging to your mobile phone bill – the convenience and speed and security – are all now pretty meaningless since users are getting this anyway.

It was good while it lasted and, as with all the mobile payment startups we saw back in 2012 to 2015, it missed the boat. We may well have been living in mobile payment nirvana already had the operators got their act together. Or Zapp or Znap, or any of the millions of others that I was so excited about.

But now they all seem to have to real place. I have been shopping on mobile and in apps and really getting stuck into the digital economy for years now and I haven’t yet come across a situation where I wished I could use carrier billing or a mobile wallet. This should have been telling from day one – no one actually needed any of this stuff.

So where does that leave us now? Well, gaming companies are still going to be looking at carrier billing for onboarding people, but that’s about it. We may see carparking open up, but frankly I have managed to pay at carparks using pre-registered text now for several years and it seems to work.

The industry missed the boat spectacularly on mobile payments and the door is now closed. Instead we need to start looking towards international PRS, affiliate marketing and wholesale services to try and make ends meet, but even that is a diminishing market (and one fraught now with complex VAT changes)… looks like an interesting year ahead: and more consolidation. The only upside is that there is a burgeoning market overseas for PRS services to offer mainstream services we take for granted in the West. Out in developing markets there is a thirst for new ways to pay and telemedia has an opportunity to shine here.

Back home it may well be that we see a swing back to call centres, entertainment services and the bread and butter that has always been working away nicely in the background. The dream of capitalising on the mobile payment boom – nay, the mobile commerce boom – is not, sadly, I fear dead. It was fun while it lasted.

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Editor and content creator for Telemedia – for 18 years and counting

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