Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New steps in M-Payments

Total Telecom reports that the Italian Post Office's MVNO will have a number of Payment services available in an effort to distinguish itself from it carrier Vodafone.

Thus we finally have a Western European network looking to offer customers replacement of paper money and coins. The Italian Banking environment is still what underdeveloped compared to most with a number of regional banks rather than National banks when it comes to the retail sector and so the Post Office is still a major player when it comes to payments. This makes the target of 2M subscribers look somewhat conservative. Perhaps they need to take a leaf out of Tesco's book and look to grow more aggressively?

I hope that they are successful, and I hope that the GSMA take note and start to back M-Payments for the benefit of the Market rather than a get rich quick scheme as the seem to be with the present remittance based approach. Perhaps if they engaged with consultants that know the payments market rather than Blue Chip accountants they would be more flexible and finally manage to develop Mobile Payments. But that is unlikely and this has all the hallmarks of the dotmobi plan to "get rich quick" rather than aid the market!

Another organisation that could do with some Consulting help is Transport for London who are pushing ahead with a trial of NFC based handsets from Nokia on the O2 network. Whilst I support the movement of my Oyster Card onto my handset I do not think that the use of the UK network with the worst billing system will be an effective proof of concept. The Independent today writes about the trial; something the Guardian did on Monday. This is the second trial that I know of, a very small test took place in the summer with some 200 people using handsets I hope that this one will be bigger. I would also have hopes that they tested on the other networks to see how the billing systems function there both Pre and Post-Paid.

UPDATE: The press release has now been sent out and what 500 lucky O2 customers can now expect is the use of a Nokia handset for the next six months whilst they trial  the system.  Thus we have no great leap forward, rather we can expect another small step.  

I wonder if the move will force the  other networks to open up mobile payments or if we can 
expect to have 
to wait before we  have open access. The good news is that it's not expected to work on an iPhone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Future of Mobile

Ian Hay from Orange has written the best review of last weeks Future of Mobile event.

Looks like Tony has got some new jokes. Others gave some interesting points, still not sure about the focus on data.

Perhaps Fog and I need to sit down with Ian and talk more about the Power of Voice in mobile.

The event itself looks like something I should try and attend when they next run it. Did want to go, if only to finally catch up with a few that I have not been able to since the Summer.

The Carnival hits 100

Abhishek Tiwari hosts the hundredth Carnival of the Mobilist.

I have been an occasional submitter of posts and hosted the carnival twice myself. The Guys at Mobhappy had a wonderful idea and others have taken it forward. Over the past two years I have made a number of new friends and read some great counterpoints on all things wireless.

Here is to the next 100

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Economist says that 2008 might be the year for m-payments

I picked up the 2008 edition of the Economist's magazine The World in... and one of the features in the business sector was Buying and celling by Tom Standage which looked at how NFC will start to gain traction.

One of the data points that gained my attention was a graphic that shows that only in the US the population has more access to cash machines than mobile phone.

I still think that mobile payments face a challenge in the UK and US where we are too reliant on credit cards rather than bank cards. For M-Payments to work they have to be a replacement of paper and coin based payment rather than an alternative to electronic fund transfers. If mobile networks start to try and compete with Banks then the Banks are going to ask that they are regulated in the same manner. However if the networks can replace micropayments of a value of less than say $20 then we can look to a rosy future.

I think that the introduction of M-Payments will also reap benefits for customer retention, the Networks will seek to establish a stronger relationship with its customers which will see them move from PAYG to Contract. Once the mobile phone has more functionality than just talk and text consumers will be less price sensitive. The functionality will not in my view be the Internet it has to be something more than just a window.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Looks like I was not the only one that passed on the iPhone

Reading the reports on the launch of the iPhone over the last 24 hours and it does not look like good news for Apple.

In the Telegraph O2 says that they had a great weekend and sold more phones than Carphone Warehouse. The interesting snippet was the spokeman saying that once you get people in the shop they can sell them something.

Over at Dialaphone they have a number of photos of empty CPW shops showing just how the UK wanted an iPhone after a week of wall to wall coverage.

Spoke to a few who might have been iPhone customers and they said that they have gone for the iTouch because it was a smart iPod without a poor phone.

Now I expect to see a new iPhone after Christmas that will improve on the launch handset. Will Steve say sorry to the mugs that bought one before the relaunch with another iTunes voucher? I am not too sure we are a long way from his main market.

What might the new handset have? It needs a better camera, faster radio and a full Bluetooth radio. It also needs a different business model for Europe, I am not the only one saying that the price is too high. Apple needs to realise that the consumer will not pay over £100/€150 for a handset and if they are to "tax" the networks for its iPhone customers it needs to drop the entry price.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The iPhone is coming

This week O2 stepped up the marketing push for the iPhone. The FT ran a story that they expected to sell 200,000 handsets before Christmas. Peter Erskine was on the BBC radio spreading the word prior to launch on Friday.

Now in the run up to Christmas the UK will buy some 3Million handsets and so 200,000 does not look that great. The concern that I have is whilst the Apple store is always busy I just do not see the consumer demand once you have managed to use the phone. I think that a large number of those handsets sold by Carphone Warehouse could be returned by disappointed customers looking to get something that works.

Whilst I agree that O2 is a Consumer Network I do not think that many on the network are happy to pay over £45 per month. I can only see that the iPhone will not drive the business forward, rather it will expose the limited capability of the O2 network. I also do not think that the O2 and Apple brands are aligned. O2 claims that a third of all text messages are sent on its network, the latest figures show that over 1 billion were sent in the UK. As I and others have said the iPhone does not do text very well this is another reason why I say that it will not be the happy event that some are saying.

Watching TV last night and I saw my first iPhone advert and I have to say that I was not overly impressed. This was an advert that showed some of how the handset works.

Just hope that the Google Phone is something that breaks the game open when the covers come off this week.