Google may have just unveiled its preliminary plans to bring contactless mobile payments to the U.S., but mobile payments in using various technologies are prime to blow up in several other markets around the world as well. Swedish wireless analyst firm Berg Insight on Thursday issued a report on mobile money in emerging markets, and the group believes adoption will skyrocket over the next four years. In 2010 there were 133 million people in emerging markets who used their cell phones to move money or pay for goods and services. That number is set to grow an average of 40% each year to reach 709 million in 2015, the firm believes. Over that same period, the total value of mobile payment transactions will balloon from $25 billion in 2010 to $215 billion in 2015. “In developing regions such as Africa the mobile phone will become the primary digital channel for people to conduct financial services in the coming years,” said Telecom Analyst Lars Kurkinen. “Financial institutions are beginning to realize the importance of mobile phones to reach new clients viewing mobile money services as high-priority strategic projects. Also mobile operators and third party service providers are ramping up their efforts to target the huge unbanked populations in emerging markets.” Hit the break for Berg’s full release. More →
Mobile payments collaborative Isis has announced its first trial market, Salt Lake City. The group, which is comprised of AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, plans to bring its contactless payment system to the Utah merchants in “early to mid-2012.” Isis also announced a working agreement with the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) to enable Isis payments throughout the entire public transportation system. “By working with the Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake Chamber and Salt Lake City-area merchants, Isis is bringing the mobile commerce vision to reality,” said the group’s CEO, Michael Abbott. “Salt Lake City consumers will experience a new way to shop, pay and save.” The announcement comes one day after a report suggested Sprint would develop its own mobile payment solution for future use. The full Isis press release is after the break. More →
According to Bloomberg, U.S. wireless provider Sprint is working on a mobile, touchless payment service based on NFC (Near Field Communications) technology. Sprint’s vice president of product platforms, Kevin McGinnis, told the publication that his company plans to make its touchless payment system “an open solution” that will work in a variety of physical locations. “Because we’re allowing other brands and other institutions to participate, they can also tell their consumers that this is available on Sprint,” McGinnis continued. The wireless company hopes to share in revenues generated by point-of-sales purchases, coupons, and other sales-related offerings delivered to user handsets. Gartner projects that 340 million mobile payment users from around the globe will be responsible for $245 billion worth of transactions by 2014.
U.S. carriers continue to jockey for position in an attempt to properly position themselves to ride the impending mobile payments tidal wave. Back in November of last year, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless announced a partnership — dubbed Isis — that will bring mobile payments to their customers. Should the proposed AT&T and T-Mobile merger go though, it could pit the forces of a united AT&T and Verizon Wireless against Sprint.
Sprint has yet to publicly comment on its mobile payment plans. More →
According to Bloomberg, Microsoft is working on a Windows Phone update that will bring mobile payments to its fledgling smartphone operating system. Citing two anonymous sources, the publications writes that the company “plans to include mobile-payment technology in new versions of its operating system for smartphones as part of an effort to narrow Google Inc.’s lead in handset software,” and “the first devices boasting these features may be released this year.” The report suggests that the company’s mobile payments solution will be based on NFC (Near Field Communications) technology, meaning that new phones with NFC hardware would also have to be released. The world’s largest phone manufacturer, Nokia, has committed to Microsoft’s smartphone operating system for future devices. The Finnish company has been experimenting with, and using, NFC in its phones for many years, which can’t hurt Microsoft’s chances of success. More →
According to the Wall Street Journal, Google, MasterCard, and Citigroup are collaborating to bring mobile payments, via NFC, to Android smartphones. Citing anonymous sources, the publication writes that the new service would “allow holders of Citigroup-issued debit and credit cards to pay for purchases by activating a mobile-payment application developed for one current model and many coming models of Android phones.” The report also notes that users of the mobile payment service will be delivered “targeted ads or discount offers” — which will be sold by Google. Ed McLaughlin, Chief Emerging Payments Officer at MasterCard, provided BGR with the following statement:
We are aware of the speculation that appeared in the Wall Street Journal today concerning our role within mobile payments with Citi and Google. However, we do not comment on market rumor or speculation. What we can tell you is that we are pleased to see great interest in NFC technology – it is a very high priority at MasterCard – and we think that 2011 will be the year of mobile payments.
It is assumed that both MasterCard and Citigroup will profit from the venture by dividing the fees assessed to retailers for accepting credit payments. Google will generate revenue from the sale of the aforementioned, targeted adverts and coupons. The purported system is expected to be released sometime “this year.” More →
A report on Tuesday from Chinese financial paper China Times suggests that Apple’s next-generation smartphone has entered trial production and is scheduled for a third-quarter launch. Apple released the iPhone 4 late in the second quarter of 2010, however some speculate Apple may push its iPhone 5 launch back to July or even later in an effort to place more space between its release and the launch of Verizon Wireless’ iPhone 4, which became available this past February. China Times’ report goes on to echo previous rumors that the iPhone 5 will feature a design much like Apple’s current iPhone 4 model, however it will include a few key points of differentiation. Among them are a larger 4-inch display that may stretch further to the edges of the device, thus allowing the overall size to remain unchanged, and a metal chassis in place of Apple’s current glass case. The report also claims that Apple’s iPhone 5 will feature an NFC chip, which could empower a close-proximity wireless payment solution that might some day replace credit cards. An earlier report on Monday suggested Qualcomm will supply Apple with NFC chips for the iPhone 5. More →
Rumors surrounding an NFC-equipped iPhone from Apple date back to last summer, when Apple hired NFC expert Benjamin Vigier as its Commerce Product Manager. Speculation surrounding how Apple might use NFC dates back even further, of course, considering the many NFC-related Apple patents that have been revealed in the past. On Monday, the flames were rekindled yet again as The New York Times reported Apple will include NFC chips from Qualcomm in a future version of its iPhone handset. The Times’ report doesn’t specifically state that Apple’s next iPhone — referred to as the iPhone 5, for now — will include NFC capabilities, saying only that a “coming iteration” of Apple’s smartphone will include Qualcomm NFC chips. Following several reports however, many still anticipate that the iPhone 5 will indeed be the first Apple smartphone to include NFC capabilities. Apple is expected to unveil its next-generation iPhone in June. More →
According to information garnered by UK paper The Independent, Apple will not include Near Field Communications (NFC) technology in its next generation iPhone. Citing sources at “several of the largest mobile operators in the UK,” the paper states that Apple informed mobile carriers of its decision to forgo NFC over several meetings. Analysts suspect that Apple may be working on its own NFC-like payment system — one that routes payment through the company’s iTunes Store — as it has been discouraged by the “lack of a clear industry standard.” NFC is expected to handle over $150 billion by the year 2015, making it a trend that no mobile carrier or manufacturer wants to be left out on. More →
Google made its software development kit (SDK) available for version 2.3.3 of the Android OS earlier this month, and Stanford University’s MobiSocial News uncovered a nifty feature that hasn’t gotten much coverage. The new SDK features an API for “insecure Bluetooth socket connections” on both the client and server sides. Coupled with Gingerbread’s widely publicized NFC capabilities, this will allow developers to enable a tap-to-connect feature that lets NFC-equipped Android phones forgo the Bluetooth pairing process. Similar to the functionality HP showed off with its TouchPad tablet and Pre 3 smartphone at the Think Beyond event last week, devices running Android 2.3.3 or later can be connected to each other with a simple tap that will automatically initiate data transfers. Apple is rumored to be cooking up a unique twist for the NFC functionality coming to its next-generation iPhone, so smart functionality beyond mobile payments such as tap-to-share will certainly help Android’s case in the meantime. More →
In a note to investors on Thursday, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White reiterated a rumor that Apple’s next-generation iPhone will include integrated NFC capabilities. The rumor was essentially confirmed by European carrier Deutsche Telekom at Mobile World Congress earlier this week when the company stated that it will offer an NFC-enabled iPhone in the first half of this year. Interestingly, however, White also noted that his sources indicate the iPhone 5′s NFC capabilities will feature a “twist” that will differentiate the device from its competition. Mobile payments are expected to be the main focus of NFC-enabled cell phones, which are being promoted aggressively in 2011 by cell phone makers, carriers and other companies that will earn revenue from the transactions the emerging technology will facilitate. The idea of a twist in Apple’s NFC implementation could prove to be another interesting selling point for the company’s next iPhone when it launches this summer.
According to a report from Bloomberg Tuesday morning, Apple plans to add a mobile payment feature to future iOS devices. The service, which utilizes a Near-Field Communication chip and a software solution, will be integrated into Apple’s next-generation iPhone and iPad, the report says. The source of this new information is Richard Doherty, director of consulting firm Envisioneering Group, who claims both the iPhone 5 and iPad 2 will launch this year with integrated NFC functionality. Apple is known to have hired various NFC experts in recent history, and it holds several patents surrounding the technology. The company could theoretically have a much easier time than its competitors building a successful mobile payment service thanks to the millions of credit cards associated with iTunes it already has on file. Future iPhone users could simply enter their iTunes passwords a single time and accept a license agreement, and the service would then be enabled and ready for use. The key to the success of NFC-based mobile payments, however, is integration on the vendor side. Without a universal processing solution and widespread retailer adoption, the future of these solutions in the U.S. and other emerging NFC markets is a bleak one. More →
Things we definitively know: Samsung will be introducing the successor to the Galaxy S next month at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Things we don’t definitively know: what the handset will look like, what it is named, and what kind of specs it will have. All that, however, hasn’t stopped Korean newspaper ETnews from weighting in with its opinion. The publication claims that the above image is indeed the Samsung Galaxy S2 — name subject to change. The report states the that device will have a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, dual-core processor, and NFC chip; the device will also run on Google’s latest mobile operating system, Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). We’re not too sure on the authenticity of the image, but the specification predictions aren’t all that outlandish (especially considering what the Nexus S has in it and some of the dual-core phones we saw at CES). It’s all speculative for now, but your friends at BGR will be in Spain next month to report on all the hotness as it happens. More →
In a new report on Tuesday, Bloomberg Businessweek reaffirms that Google has big plans for NFC. The report cites two people familiar with Google’s plans in claiming that the Internet giant is building a service that will combine mobile payments and advertising. As Google tries to spread its net wider and make money on both sides of the retail equation — take a piece when companies advertise a product, then take another piece when customers purchase the product — a solid mobile payment product is an absolute necessity. Google acquired stealth mobile payment startup Zetawire last year, and the inclusion of NFC capabilities in the Google Nexus S and other upcoming Android devices is very telling. The key is getting retailers on board; smartphone payment systems are gaining traction in some markets but key regions like the U.S. are not yet making significant progress in the area. With Google behind the new push, however, smartphone payment systems have a much better chance of being more widely adopted. More →