Pipeline Publishing, Volume 5, Issue 6
This Month's Issue:
IMS: the Way to True Convergence?
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The Search for Mobile Payments Continues

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By Ed Finegold

There was a time when Bluetooth was an exciting new personal networking technology that would provide some of the glue in an always-on service environment. All of that engineering has only replaced the wired headset. In the meantime, Near Field Communication (NFC) has come along as the favorite in the payments world. Mobile phones all have Bluetooth now. It'll be 5 years before enough have NFC fobs integrated into them. However, if the communications industry wants to be in the revenue stream and capitalize on the expanding micropayments and personal transfers markets, NFC integration can't come soon enough.

Returning to Wrigley

Wrigley Field is cold, as the Cubs have sadly demonstrated once again, but it will be colder on January 1 when it's turned into an ice rink for a game between the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings. If I'm wrapped up in a blanket with a pedal-powered space heater trying to enjoy the game, I don't want to take a glove off to hand the hot cocoa guy some cash. I just want to use my cell phone.

Were I to live in Mexico, I wouldn't be nearly as cold in the winter, and I'd be able to pay for just about anything with my mobile when I'd be happy to pay in cash with machismo. In August, Telefonica and Iusacell announced partnerships with Citigroup and BBVA that will allow mobile subscribers to link savings accounts to their phones. The phone can then be used to make payments at stores and restaurants - and to pay for taxis - all by text message.

If I'm wrapped up in a blanket with a pedal-powered space heater trying to enjoy the game, I don't want to take a glove off to hand the hot cocoa guy some cash.


In the U.S., PayPal Mobile is providing a back end to enable the "text to buy" model. After a mobile user texts a word, like DVD, to a short code, PayPal calls the user back to confirm the order and a PIN. Once cleared, the order is shipped and billed to the address listed on the user's PayPal account. While text-to-buy gets us closer to pay-by-mobile, it is somewhat inflexible in that it is used for pre-planned promotions as opposed to providing easier access to payment in general. It's not the kind of fluid "pay for anything"

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This effort in Mexico is reportedly being targeted to teenagers first because they are progressive mobile users. Telling teenagers to connect their cell phones to their bank accounts and pay for everything by text message sounds about as smart as giving mortgages to people with bad credit and no income. That's why banks are interested in making payments as fluid and accessible as possible.

environment that credit and debit cards already give us. I might be able to have a Blackhawks sweater shipped to my office by sending a text, but I'm still paying cash to the cocoa man.

With Google coming onto the mobile scene, location is being integrated into the mobile commerce experience. The Google Android phone has so much style you can almost

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