Two announcements this week have demonstrated how mobile money providers are looking at the concept of consumer trust as central to turning their mobile money businesses into mass market propositions.
Firstly, French payments venture Buyster launched its mcommerce service in its home market. The venture is backed by the country’s three mobile operators as well as IT provider Atos Origin. Buyster’s service enables users to make purchases via the internet. Its key differentiator appears to be security. More particularly, the service allows users to link their bank account details with a mobile phone number. This means they can use their phone number to authenticate transactions rather than their bank details. The service also makes use of a private code known only to the user as a second layer of security.
Separately, UK firm Monitise was this week granted a patent for what it claims is “a new way to enable consumers to shop securely via their mobile or the internet”. It is applying for a patent that would enable a user to shop through a virtual credit or debit card rather than using their own card details such as account number, expiry date and security code. Effectively, Monitise’s technology would give a user a prepaid digital voucher topped up with a set amount, or lasting for a specific length of time.
At one level both the Buyster service and the Monitise patent obviously focus on a similar theme of enabling users to shop happily without having any concerns about security, or more particularly about their bank or card details being stolen and fraudulent transactions conducted using them.
The ideas are not unique, they are just two announcements that happened to come out this week, which in itself is a reflection of how many mobile payment providers are now zeroing in on a similar concept. Others are also pursuing the same part of the market with strong ideas too. Providers who offer carrier billing, or a variation of it, such as Billtomobile, Boku, Payfone or Zong (now PayPal) are also travelling in the same direction.
All have realised a central truth about mobile payments: it’s partly about convenience, yes, but also about making users feel safe. Not having to input their bank or card details every time they make a transaction makes users feel secure. So does knowing their transaction is being put on a dull but safe phone bill. It may not be the most exciting aspect of mobile money but it’s the kind of simple-thing-done-well that attracts mass market users.