The next big thing

Peggy Anne Salz
06 Dec 2007

Mobile devices are playing an increasingly important role in the financial industry because of their immense potential to act as a platform for a plethora of financial transactions. There is a flurry of activity around both payments and banking, with investments, operator adoption and development of innovative solutions driving the market.

According to 'Mobile Payments and Keitai Credit', a new report by Gerhard Fasol, of Eurotechnology Japan, the advance of such overarching mobile payment systems paves the way for a new order in personal finance.

While the study points to a strong interest in mobile banking, it also reveals that mobile banking is still in its infancy around the globe.

To spur the delivery of the long-awaited wallet, Visa joined forces in January with Nokia, Verisign and IBM to launch a global mobile payment system that spans contactless payments, remote transactions per SMS and money transfers.

The result is the Visa mobile platform, a set of mobile services and enabling technologies that allows banks and mobile operators to develop new mobile payment

Visa has since announced Visa payWave contactless mobile pilots across Asia.

In South Korea, Visa partnered with SK Telecom in April to launch a contactless payment application on a universal SIM card that is updated and personalized over-the-air (OTA). The collaboration lets some 30,000 SK Telecom subscribers make Visa Wave contactless payments at more than 50,000 contactless readers at merchants in Korea.

'This year we will see real advancement in bringing mobile payment solutions to consumers,' observes Joo Sik Lee, senior VP at SK Telecom. 'A commercially scalable OTA service, modeled on the Visa mobile platform is a critical first component of our overall vision for mobile payments - and this project is an important step in moving toward that vision.'

In Australia, where the trial is set to begin in Melbourne early next year, the partnership with Telstra and NAB represents the first trial allowing customers to pay for goods and services on the go using contactless-enabled smartphones with the SIM card loaded with a NAB Visa card application.

'Instead of having a wallet or purse full of plastic cards, you could soon have them all supported on a single Telstra mobile phone, providing enhanced security and convenience,' said Telstra group managing director, enterprise and government, David Thodey.

In September, Visa tied up with Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom and Chinatrust Commercial Bank to announce a six-month trial of Visa's mobile platform, sharply focused on personalization.

As part of the trial, consumers can get merchant offers by pre-registering their preferences to receive certain types of coupons or by holding their phone up to special posters located in popular shopping areas. These trigger on-demand download of specific merchant offers. On-demand offers are supported through the use of posters and other media embedded with smart NFC tags.

Taiwan's Far EasTone, meanwhile, has partnered with Gemalto in a contactless SIM-based NFC trial starting in November. This is part of the GSM Association's Pay-Buy Mobile initiative, which seeks to define a common global approach to using NFC technology to link mobile devices with payment and contactless systems.

Trial participants can make mobile contactless purchases at any Far EasTone trial partner merchant, as well as buy items via smart posters embedded with NFC tags.

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