Posts Tagged ‘mCommerce’

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 From Around the World

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

The last day of MMT08 was focused on the true landscape of the mobile money transfer market & offered insight on how to succeed in this emerging market. As conference delegates, we had an opportunity to directly interface with the CEOs of many of the companies who have already deployed MTT solutions. The list of CEOs & their companies included Michael Joseph of Safaricom, Karim Khoja of Roshan, Brian Richardson of Wizzit, & Carol Realini of Obopay who have all had their own unique experiences developing & deploying MMT solutions.

Of the four CEOs that offered their insights, Carol Realini of Obopay is the only one whose company is experienced with deploying a MMT solution in the States. I understood Realini’s description of the MMT market in the U.S. very well which today is primarily made up of unbanked & underbanked immigrant workers & teenagers. For those teenagers that are adopting Obopay’s MMT solution it is more about convenience than anything else & since teenagers trust almost any application available on their phone it’s no wonder that this market is one of the first to adopt Obopay’s solution. In the States the MMT market is also being utilized by working immigrants because MMT offers them both a convenient & more importantly a cost saving option compared to traditional means of transferring money such as Western Union & MoneyGram.

Banks, Point of Sale (POS), eCommerce solutions, etc. are readily available in the States. In other countries, these solutions are practically nonexistent. What is readily available in these other countries with undeveloped baking & payment solutions are cell phones & because of this reason MMT is taking off!

Brian Richardson, CEO of Wizzit, did a beautiful job of describing the undeveloped market his company is working hard to serve in Africa where less than 4% of the population is banked. Richardson gave an uplifting & passionate presentation about the opportunity that exists in Africa & why his company is taking an innovative approach of bringing the banks to the unbanked; not the other way around. Richardson asked the audience of the conference to consider giving up all bank accounts, credit cards, debit cards, Internet banking, etc. The question was followed by an uncomfortable silence while we all pondered the difficulties that this would present in our lives & what the unbanked population deals with on a daily basis.

The current situation in Africa does not nurture a system for banking. Banking fees are high, the banks are open for short periods of time (9am - 3:30pm), banking services are poor, & the banks are an average of 30 kilometers (18 miles) from where most Africans live. Cash is an expensive, dangerous, & an inconvenient option, but despite the inconvenience & danger cash presents it is still a better option than banking at a conventional bank in Africa.

It was evident from beginning to end that Richardson possess real passion & excitement for this industry & to succeed in any business passion & excitement are key. Just as we at NetworkIP through our own passion & excitement have brought affordable & quality telecommunication services to the unbanked & underbanked here in the States, I hope that Wizzit will succeed in empowering those in Africa with a banking solution using MMT.

Brian Kirk
VP Business Development
NetworkIP & Jaduka

Mobile Money Transfer Regulatory Hurdles

Monday, November 10th, 2008

First to present this morning at the Mobile Money Transfer Conference (MMT08) here in Dubai was Ryan Gilbert of 1688 Inc. Gilbert excited the crowd when he described the size & potential of the Mobile Money Transfer (MMT) market. The money transfer market is currently estimated to be a $700 billion annual industry, of which $350 billion is reported through traditional means of money transfer through services such as Western Union & MoneyGram. The other $350 billion goes unreported because of non-traditional money transfers such as sending cash via snail mail & cash delivered during travel. The mobile phone, a now ubiquitous device across the globe, is the key to capturing a piece of the existing reported $350 billion market, & more importantly capturing an even larger percentage of the $350 billion which is currently untapped.

The mobile phone offers not only a more convenient way of transferring money, but is also a less expensive method for the consumer. Sending money via Western Union for example is quickly becoming a dated solution & as consumers realize the simplicity & the many advantages of money transfer via mobile the likes of Western Union will need to adapt their services to the  mobile phone or their business will suffer significantly.

Like all great opportunities there tend to be hurdles that we must work together to overcome. In a post 9-11 environment we a forced to deal with many new strict laws & regulations that will unintentionally impede the growth of the mobile money transfer market. The larger regulatory hurdles which are causing the most concern include the global patchwork of laws, the fact that current legal frameworks do not fully cover cross-border remittances, compliance is expensive, & most importantly the pace of regulation has not kept up with pace of technology innovation.

Within the United States, we are burden with even more regulations. U.S. regulations include property law, consumer protection law, AML/CFT/KYC/OFAC (also known as the alphabet soup of regulation), privacy law, telecommunications law, the Federal Money Service Business registration, & lastly the State Money Transmitter License all plaguing the industry.

Since inaction is not a viable option, the following actions for moving forward with MMT were recommended by Gilbert: 1) we must close the gap between that exists between innovations of the mobile network operator (MNO) & the regulatory goals, 2) we need inclusive planning processes, 3) we need to address consumer demand, & 4) we need to balance regulations with service-based trust & safety.

If we work together inside this mobile payment ecosystem these hurdles in comparison to the opportunity that exists are insignificant. The goal is to move quickly in order to meet consumer demand while keeping true to the regulatory compliances before us.

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

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.

Location Based Advertising (LBA)

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

A wonderful article by Christopher Breen of Macworld.com pointed to how the 3G iPhone is sure to change the way in which retailers market & we consumers choose where we eat & shop. As stated previously, I was quite disappointed that the 3G iPhone will not include support for Near Field Communications (NFC). However, with the combination of 3G & GPS you’ve still got something pretty special.

The idea of walking down the street past a store & a coupon for example appearing on your phone from the very store you are walking past is so much more a reality than it ever has been. If there isn’t a name for this type of marketing might I suggest Location Based Advertising (LBA).

Take this example a step further & imagine the coupon that was just zapped to your phone is of interest to you. You choose to redeem the coupon from your phone which leads you to a purchasing page. You select & pay for you item all through your phone. You now walk into the store to pick up the item you just purchased.

For some, this example may scare you & for others I’m sure you’d like nothing more than to be able to purchase everything from your phone. Imagine the time this approach will save you & the convenience factor. And for retailers the potential to market to consumers who can take immediate action is priceless.