News & Views - Savantor

Does anyone want mobile payments?

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Whilst trying hard not to be an old cynic it is difficult not to think ‘here we go again’ when reading that some of the UK mobile operators are to establish a stand-alone joint venture by the end of the year with the aim of encouraging mass-market adoption of mobile payment services. The companies - Everything Everywhere, Telefonica and Vodafone - say the JV will deliver the technology required for the speedy adoption of mobile wallet and payments by making it easy to transfer the physical wallet contents into a SIM based wallet regardless of which NFC enabled mobile device, or mobile network they use. SimPay wasn’t exactly a roaring success and Isis seems to be struggling in the USA so the portents aren’t great for this new venture. Clearly a standard operating environment is needed and maybe the timing is better now with NFC enabled phones starting to hit the market but the words ‘stand alone joint venture’ suggest some sort of disintermediation of the banks and schemes which may or may not be a good idea in the current environment.


The other issue which often gets forgotten is whether anyone out in the real world actually wants this. Now you can argue that nobody wanted an iPad before that hit the streets but that had a wow factor that payments lacks. A new survey in the UK showed that 67% of UK consumers have no plans to use new mobile wallet technology and almost half of respondents say they either don't need a mobile payment system or aren't interested. Now it may be that ignorance is an issue as more than a third of respondents admitting they didn't know if their phone was equipped with NFC technology but it doesn’t make for happy reading for those mobile operators.

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