Friday, 4 May 2012

Internet World 2012: Is Mobile Commerce the new frontier for payments?

It was clear from attending the Internet World exhibition and seminars last week, and from speaking to a variety of people at the show, that E-commerce and more prominently M-commerce were the two big talking points of the exhibition. One of the most thought provoking seminars “Beat the Bankers. Financial Services Evolution” proved to re-iterate the fact that great innovations and advances are happening in the payment sector and not necessarily from the usual places.

One of the biggest drivers to creating these advances is the rapid adoption of smart phones and mobile commerce which are now starting to impact the way businesses make and accept payments.  For SME’s this additional payment channel is gradually becoming more accessible and now enables businesses to accept card payments directly after completing a job, using just their mobile phone.

A relatively new innovation which was very prominent at the show and is now starting to be more commonly seen is near-field communication (NFC), which is designed to support the increase of mobile payments.  NFC technology allows contactless payments to occur, and ever-more mobile phone manufacturers and operators are beginning to include NFC technology into their phones as a standard feature.

Other advances in this sector have enabled accepting payments on your mobile which currently requires either a Chip and PIN device or authorisation from an e-wallet, like PayPal or VoicePay. A business now has the ability to convert a mobile phone into a portable payment terminal, which has provided businesses with new ways to sell their products and services on the move. It has also enabled certain industries and trades to start accepting card payment where previously no such option existed.

It is clear that mobile commerce will soon move to the placement of a mobile wallet onto the phone. Customers can then top up their mobile wallet directly from their bank account, allowing them to make unlimited mobile purchases securely and with speed and ease.

So what will be next?

The real power of mobile commerce is in the enabling of customers to make instant purchases not just from a physical shop but from offline marketing material like TV ads, magazines, exhibitions and brochure ware. Using QR Codes, customers can receive both additional product details but also they can make an instant purchase using either the funds loaded onto their phone/e-wallet or by being redirected to the businesses online payment page.

The speed in which this industry is moving and the great steps that have already been taken in both the e-commerce and m-commerce space, I personally can’t wait to see what next year’s show will bring us... Instant purchase and control from anywhere with any device perhaps? Watch this space!

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