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EDITOR’S BLOG 12-06-15: A time for action

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Hello and Happy Friday! What a wild week of mobile payments its been. Not only did we run our own mPayments summit on Tuesday, but – in honour of the event, no doubt – Apple rolled out Apple Pay in the UK (well announced its coming in July) the day before. Cue crazy rewriting of presentations on the day of the summit.

But in a way it was a good thing. It really focussed everyone’s minds on the growing currency of m-payments (no pun intended) and how, with Apple putting this once niche industry on the front page of every newspaper in the world for a day, how the time to strike is now.

And many of the great and the good gathered for the summit were in bullish mood: outlining just how great the technology is and how mobile payments are the way ahead for so many verticals, not least the mainstream worlds of retail and digital commerce, media, broadcast, games, gambling and more. Even car parks and taxis are keen.

Strange then how some of the panellists took this golden opportunity to suggest that carrier billing is still relatively expensive and that the cost is unlikely to come down as “[MNOs] have huge overheads in delivering the service”. If that wasn’t bad enough, it was even mooted that there is no carrier incentive to push this unless they get a really well known ‘hero’ brand that reflects the carriers’ own brand ethos to back it.

Uh-oh. We seem to have travelled 10 years back in time, to an era when MNOs wanted to be cool consumer facing brands and that they would own the content and access to the content and become banks, record stores and more.

Come on guys not again! Just make this stuff happen for the real consumer facing businesses and let’s get on with it.

The opportunity for carrier billing is huge. No, it won’t replace all other forms of payments but it is another payment channel for many businesses to offer. As Rob Weisz from Fonix pointed out, one gambling client is doing very well popping it up as a last attempt to get sign ups when people bail and the credit and debit card sign up stage.

It also, as Dr Windsor Holden from Juniper Research pointed out in his opening keynote, has a 60% conversion rate and is rapidly becoming very popular all over the world.

In fact, Comic Relief, the BBC, INMA, ImpulsePay, txtnation, Oxygen 8 and Fonix all sang the praises of charge to mobile, against a backdrop of real world examples. The audience of potential users were also much more keen to hear more when it was revealed that it no longer costs 30-60% of the transaction to use it, but more like 9%. Still some way to go, but its more competitive than ever.

And this was really the over arching message from the event: a bit of education of consumers and merchants around what charge to mobile offers and where it fits in to the m-payments landscape – 35 main ways of doing it and counting, according to mobile money revolution’s presentation at the show – and it could really fly.

But how do we get there? The industry – the whole value chain in fact – was in agreement that there has to be a huge degree of working together and talking. But talk is cheap and we have been ‘talking’ for years. Now is the time for action.

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