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Mobile World Congress 2012 Roundup: Mobile Payment Trends

By Martin Schuppelius

Mobile payments have been one of the main topics at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. The congress is organized by the GSM Association (GSMA), the global industry association of mobile operators and related companies. It is not just about presenting the latest mobile devices; it is also about showing the future of mobile technology.

Mobile Payment

Mobile Payments are broadening outside of digital goods and services: Carrier billing provider BOKU announced a partnership with MasterCard to expand its payments technology to cover e-commerce and retail point-of-sale. The new BOKU Accounts service allows subscribers to make payments online, in-app, and in-store anywhere MasterCard is accepted. At the same time Facebook is starting to cut out mobile payment providers of the transaction cycle. Facebook’s CTO Bret Taylor announced during his MWC Keynote that Facebook is partnering with major mobile network operators (including AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Telefónica) and will provide its own carrier billing solution. At present Facebook uses third party providers such as BOKU or Zong to process mobile payments.

Traditional financial service companies are going mobile:

  • Visa and Vodafone announced at the conference to join forces and develop a mobile payment platform based on Visa prepaid accounts.
  • Money transfer giant Western Union (in cooperation with mobile operator WIND) is going to launch a mobile money transfer service in Italy.

Innovative mobile payment services presented their latest developments:

  • iZettle’s mobile payment solution that allows users to accept card payments using their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch gains traction and is expanding into tree new countries.
  • Mobile payment start-up boxPAY launched and presented an in-app payment service for Google’s Android platform.

Near Field Communication

Near field communication (NFC) services are gaining momentum and have become one of the trending topics at the MWC this year. The GSMA has recently published a set of industry specifications to enable the development of secure and ubiquitous mobile NFC services.

  • Smartcard and digital security companies such as Gemalto and Giesecke & Devrient showcased their NFC-services at the MWC.
  • The Logic Group and ViVOtech announced to work together to enable customers to shop via their NFC-enabled smartphones.
  • Mobile payment joint venture ISIS has teamed-up with BarclayCard, Capital One, and Chase.

Facebook Allows In-App Currency Offers Again

By Martin Schuppelius

Facebook now allows developers on its platform to provide offers that pay out directly in the native in-app currency, according to a post on the Facebook developer blog.

This is a big change for developers because since July 2011 it was mandatory for all developers on the Facebook Canvas platform to process payments exclusively through Facebook Credits. Before the launch of credits, many app developers awarded users with in-app currency upon completing an offer. The problem back than was that the offers often where online scam (see the ScamVille series on TechCrunch). Facebook then introduced its own credits to provide a secure and trusted ecosystem for virtual good purchases. Also Facebook keeps 30% share of the transaction value.

For developers, the new possibility to reward users with the in-app currency can be an additional source of revenues because users are more likely to complete offers for a currency they are already used to. The new in-app offers are available via Facebook’s partner TrialPay, for more information see the official Facebook offers documentation.


PayPal Launches Send Money Facebook App

By Gary Merrett

PayPal has released a Send Money application on Facebook. The App lets users send money to his/her friends on Facebook along with a e-card, photo or video that is posted automatically to the recipient’s wall.

Sending money directly from one person to another is nothing new to PayPal, the company originally started as a service to transfer money between Palm PDAs. In order to send funds to Facebook contacts via PayPal, the user has to log into Facebook and authorize the Send Money app. After login to his/her PayPal account, the client can select a recipient, the amount of money and the e-card. Person-to-person (p2p) transactions within the US are free of charge if the PayPal account of the sending person is funded by a bank account. The service has nothing to do with Facebook Credits, the social network’s own digital currency which does not support p2p transactions so far.

PayPal’s Send Money Facebook App

PayPal sees big potential in combining e-cards and p2p money transfer via Facebook – according to the Greeting Card Association Americans send 500 million e-cards each year. JB Coutinho, Senior Product Marketing Manager at PayPal commented in a blog post: “… we’re bringing the largest online payments company to the world’s largest social network to make it even easier to send money to your friends and family directly from Facebook”


Commonwealth Bank Launched NFC Mobile Payment Service in Australia

By Gary Merrett

Australian Commonwealth Bank today announced the launch of Kaching, a mobile payment app for iPhone that features peer-to-peer payments along with NFC (Near Field Communication) contactless payment technology.

Kaching will be the first commercial mobile banking and payment app to integrate NFC technology in Australia. The service combines P2P payments via the phone’s contacts, email addresses and the user’s Facebook friends along with NFC contactless technology. Since the iPhone does not natively support NFC, the bank will issue a NFC enabled iCarte case to its customers. The bank has partnered with MasterCard, so its clients can use MasterCard’s contactless PayPass terminals to pay at retail stores.

Commonwealth Bank has experienced enormous growth in its online banking service, NetBank in recent years. In August this year, over 16 million logons were made to NetBank using a mobile device. According to the company, this represents a 229% increase from the same period last year. David Lindberg, Executive General Manager Cards, Payments and Retail Strategy said: “Mobile and online social payment is the next step in transaction technology… Now, for the first time, Australian consumers will no longer have to rely on cash or cards to make payments to family, friends or even businesses. The recent explosion in uptake of digital and smartphone technology has revolutionised how we all transact, interact and communicate with each other, and this new application will make the dream of mobile payments a reality.”