Archive for the ‘contactless payments’ Category

Meet In the Middle and Transact

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

An article this morning on mobile commerce - “Survey Says: Retailers Need to Go Mobile” - referenced a recent survey conducted by Foresee Results that reported nearly a third of online shoppers said they used their mobile phone as part of their regular shopping trip.  Whether used for calling or texting a friend for advice prior to making a purchase, or for taking a picture of a product with their mobile phone and sending it to themselves to look at it later from home, the mobile phone has become an important tool that consumers use when making purchase decisions. The article went on to explain the need for brick-and-mortar retailers to consider developing and offering mobile applications to their customers in hopes of increasing their sales numbers.

The article concluded by asking its readers, “How else do you think brick-and-mortar retailers could appeal to mobile-enabled shoppers?”

I’m a huge fan of mobile applications and I use my mobile for anything and everything that I can.

At NetworkIP and Jaduka, we have long envisaged that consumers who buy products and services at brick-and-mortar retail outlets will migrate to buying through their mobile phones and hand-held devices. That’s why NetworkIP and Jaduka have deployed a robust, global transaction processing platform that brands can use to engage with their customers both online and offline.

Our platform affords consumers four unique options for purchasing product, activating products, and even renewing existing product subscriptions: via the web, through traditional voice applications (using both automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions and traditional customer service), through mobile devices and via over 500,000 retail outlets equipped with Point of Sale (POS) capabilities.

Hunter Newby of Internet Telephony Magazine described our platform as “a virtual real estate for a giant digital Wal-Mart!…an IP version of a free-trade zone allowing multiple parties to virtually meet in the middle and transact.”

We agree, and the future, is, indeed, exciting!

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP and Jaduka

Mobile Money Transfer

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

Earlier this week I departed from Austin & boarded one of three flights that would eventually land me in Dubai, which is serving as this year’s host city for the Mobile Money Transfer (MMT) conference that I will participate in. As noted by the conference organizers, there are significant profits to be made out of MMT. Only a finite group of market leaders such as Safaricom who developed M-PESA & Globe’s G-Cash have proven it, & now mobile network operators, banks, micro-finance institutions, money transfer networks & technology providers (like NetworkIP & Jaduka), are mobilizing in an attempt to grab a share of the market.

According to a study by Juniper Research, mobile remittances & contactless Near Field Communications (NFC) will account for 50% of the overall mobile payment market globally by 2013. The mobile payments market, currently dominated by purchases of digital goods such as ringtones, music & games, is expected to be led by mobile money transfers & NFC for purchases in the future. This will boost the overall m-payments market by a factor of ten until 2013.

At NetworkIP & Jaduka we are constantly looking at new services & products that can easily be powered on our ever growing network & platform. For the next four days at MMT08 I will meet with many of the thought leaders in the mobile payment industry & will participate in a variety of conference sessions in an effort to build NetworkIP’s knowledge of this evolving space as we continue to seek new ways to leverage the power of our platform to bring success to our customers & partners.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Mobile Contactless Payments Gain Momentum

Tuesday, October 28th, 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

Mobile Phones offer More Than Just Voice

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Almost every day someone presents a new idea or use for mobile phones. The size of the mobile market has become so vast that it is increasingly more difficult to identify those mobile business ideas that will work & those that won’t. In the last 12 months the mobile space has opened up new business verticals that few would have ever imagined.

The mobile space is still relatively young. It was only 25 years ago (October 13, 1983) yesterday that Bob Barnett, President of Ameritech Mobile Communications (what is now AT&T Inc. & Verizon Wireless), made the nation’s first commercial cell phone connection from Chicago’s Soldier Field.

When Barnett made that first commercial cell phone connection he used a Motorola DynaTAC handset that weighed 2 1/2 pounds & retailed for $3,995 USD. Fast forward to 2008 when most mobile phones weigh less than 1/2 a pound, they retail for around $50 USD, & even the most basic mobile phones offer address books, calendars, games, text messaging, music players, & cameras.

Just three weeks ago I read an article in the Canadian Press describing how a new Japanese mobile phone built by Sharp Corp. will be used in place of a traditional car key. This new phone uses a technology developed by Nissan Motor Co. called “Intelligent Key”. As reported by the Canadian Press, “Cars equipped with the system sense when the correct key is nearby, automatically unlocking their car doors, and allow the engine to be started once the key is brought inside the car. Nissan said it has shipped about a million cars with the technology in Japan since 2002.” NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan’s largest mobile operator, will provide the mobile network that this new service will run on.

It isn’t a surprise to me that a Japanese company is the first to introduce this type of technology. The mobile phones available in Japan are some of the most sophisticated in the world. Most of the mobile phones you will find in Japan come standard with digital TV, music players, Global Positioning Service (GPS), & cameras that double as barcode scanners & wireless credit cards.

The mobile phone is no longer a device for business men & women or the elite. The mobile phone has become a ubiquitous device for all income levels & demographics around the world.

Today, the mobile industry is nearly a $150-billion-a-year industry. As data speeds continue to increase & mCommerce solutions gain popularity the mobile industry will only continue to grow.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

G1 Android Already Sold Out

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Two weeks ago today (September 23, 2008) Google officially announced & showed off the new HTC G1, aka the “Google Phone.” The G1 will run Google’s much anticipated Android mobile operating system & T-Mobile will provide service on their GSM network.

In my opinion, the G1 will be this first real competitor of Apple’s iPhone. One week following Google’s announcement & before the first phone had even shipped, T-Mobile announced that they had sold out of the G1. The demand for the G1 has far exceeded both Google’s & T-Mobile’s expectations. In an effort to respond to consumer demand, T-Mobile decided last week to triple the number of G1 mobile devices available for sale through pre-orders until October 22nd.

The excitement surrounding the release of the G1 Android goes beyond the fact that T-Mobile has sold out of their initial inventory. This is excitement can be seen through the numerous developments & announcements surrounding Android to include: Visa developing a mobile payment solution on Android, T-Mobile removing their 1GB data cap, & Amazon preloading their MP3 digital music store on the G1.

The future potential of Google’s Android operating system is almost limitless. HTC is predicting up to 2 million Android phones will be sold by end of 2009. Google is also making waves with mobile carriers with their hopes to free the mobile device from the mobile carrier with a concept they call “Instant Bid.” Expectations remain high & I like many others believe that Google will deliver & expose the necessary technologies for others to develop the next generation of mobile solutions.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Mobile Payments Market Forecast for 2013

Monday, September 8th, 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

Wednesday, September 3rd, 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.

Success at the Prepaid Press Expo

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Last week’s Prepaid Press Expo in Las Vegas was a huge success for NetworkIP, our customers, & the prepaid card industry as a whole. The Expo brought seasoned veterans along with a good number of new companies entering the prepaid market.

In an effort to design the best conference possible The Prepaid Press partnered with the Pelorus Group & as a result the show offered a great array of conference tracks to include a look at the Prepaid Long Distance market as a whole (day 1), Prepaid Wireless (day 2), & Prepaid Alternative Payments (day 3).

On day 1 our very own CEO, Pete Pattullo, presented on the topic of “Building a Better Mousetrap” which focused on the technology of prepaid. Pete’s presentation discussed how we at NetworkIP have approached building a solution to stand the test of time received outstanding feedback from the audience. As Pete suggested, it takes a lot more than a VoIP box to develop a truly remarkable platform. It requires a combination of passion to build reliability, requires managing quality connections (our own iQT solution), ensuring competitive pricing, having the right information to make decisions, the evolution of the platform (we’ve been at it for 10 years & recently released our 8th major software revision – ICS8), innovation & the never-ending pursuit of excellence, & having talented experienced people with the right skills. These are the components that have made our solution the best in class!

Following our very own Leadership Summit Wednesday morning I caught a number of good conference sessions on Prepaid Wireless later in the day. Randall Walrond, VP of Product Management at IVR Technologies, discussed how the prepaid market can leverage the new technology of today’s mobile smart phones. He & I agree on a number of points on what these new devices & faster networks open up to the industry.

I also heard a number of compelling arguments suggesting that the average prepaid consumer isn’t ready for the new smart phones, the applications that run on these smart phones, & new technologies such as Near Field Communication (NFC). Oscar Munoz, President of Uni-Mas Corporation, provided compelling arguments that the average prepaid consumer can’t afford today’s smart phones & that technologies such as NFC are just to far out to invest in for today’s market. Munuz of course didn’t argue that smart phones & new technologies such as NFC would eventually reach the prepaid consumer. He simply suggested that it’s still a few years down the road & that we need to focus on the reality of today.

On day 3, Joel Stanton of Lightspeed Research presented on the value that exists in today’s alternative prepaid market. He discussed the pros & cons with of both the closed-loop & opened-loop gift card industry. Stanton’s presentation was then followed by a discussion on how to best distribute prepaid card solutions. Thomas Honey of Better ATM Services discussed the numerous problems with the distribution of gift cards & cited specific examples such as banks offering VISA & MasterCard gift cards.

Looking back on this year’s show & the topics that were discussed we noticed a significant shift in attention towards the mobile market. We too believe that the mobile market offers huge potential for prepaid. As network speeds increase & mobile phone operating systems, mobile devices, & the mobile networks continue to open up there is an abundance of opportunity for companies to leverage the services & applications that can be developed for this market.

Our hats off to the folks at the Prepaid Press who were able to put together such an exciting & informative event. It was definitely worth us attending, it was great for our customers, & we look forward to maturing the many new relationships that were made at this year’s event.

Product Education is Key to Your Success

Thursday, July 24th, 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.