News & Views - Savantor

From m-commerce to c-commerce

Monday, 01 May 2006

Contactless cards may be the current flavour of the month but the signs already point to a migration from cards to mobile handsets utilising Near Field Communications (NFC) to enable a whole range of sophisticated services including, but not limited to, contactless payment. This migration will offer market participants a constantly changing and expanding set of opportunities to cement customer loyalty and reap the benefits of co-branding and cross-promotion.

Savantor has previously highlighted that whilst mobile payments have been the next big thing for some time many argue that they've failed to live up to the hype surrounding them.

Mobile commerce is the effective delivery of electronic commerce into the consumer's hand using wireless technology. This advance has the power to transform the mobile phone into a mobile payment wallet. Already major companies have begun to establish partnerships with banks, ticket agencies and top brands to take advantage of their products and services whilst giving the consumer a new delivery channel.

So are we witnessing a shift to contactless commerce with the advent of mobile phones utilising NFC?

Recent research by ABI indicated that by 2010, more than 50% of mobiles will incorporate NFC capabilities that will be used not only for payments at points of sale and remotely, but also to access information from 'smart objects.' An example of this is Visa's recent presentations on m-commerce showing a poster advertising a concert you want to attend. Hold your phone near the poster, and it connects you to a website where you buy your tickets, download them to the phone, and tap the phone at the turnstile to enter the show.

This illustrates not only the multiple opportunities that will arise as this technology moves from card to phone but also how banks and retailers need to use the wealth of real-time usage information that more sophisticated systems can provide.

One experiment will take place this summer when China Mobile plans to test contactless subway ticketing and retail purchasing using phones supporting Near Field Communication technology. For the pilot, which will involve no more than 500 users, the operator will use model 3220 phones from Nokia. The 3220 comes with an attachable shell embedded with NFC chips and antennas. The payment application is likely to be an electronic purse used for small purchases.

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