As a veteran in the mobile network industry, I’ve heard lots of buzz around mobile payments, mobile wallet, and mobile shopping for quite some time. However those things never seemed to really take off. Sometimes, words and actions aren’t always in sync. Now the industry is calling this concept “digital commerce” and it’s going strong. Here at MWC we’ve already seen:
- An announcement of a device-led mobile payment service
- Many Monday sessions discussing mobile payments
- Several conference sessions and partner events featuring digital retail
The announcement by Visa and Airtel generated lots of interest. Visa and Bharti Airtel struck a deal that will introduce digital payment services to the operator’s subscribers, allowing them to use Airtel’s Mobile Money service to buy goods and services. The service will be offered in Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles and Tanzania – seven of the seventeen African markets where Airtel operates. With their Mobile Money, subscribers will be able to use their phones to make mobile payments wherever Visa is accepted. For most subscribers this will be their first “bank account” of sorts, enabling them to buy not only in local stores, but also online, using some of the latest digital payment advancements as part of their everyday shopping experience.
Visa’s announcement was met in kind by MasterCard, who announced an end-to-end tokenization service in conjunction with Samsung Galaxy s6 handsets and the Samsung Pay service for contactless mobile payments (using a magstripe reader integrated into the back of the phone). MasterCard has already made mobile remittance services available to banking customers in Zimbabwe and Nigeria. This means that bank customers will be able to deposit funds sent to them by family and friends directly into their bank account or their mobile wallet. For convenience, it can’t be beat!
Digital commerce is such a hot topic, MWC dedicated an entire hall to it. Here’s a small sample of the things I saw showcased there as I strolled through.
- International couponing from Taiwan
- Collaborative couponing from Italy
- Mobile point of sale and NFC access from Switzerland
- Mobile e-ticketing from France
- Mobile wallet from Norway
In the last year, we’ve seen substantial momentum in making mobile payment services available to consumers worldwide – and CSPs are going the extra mile to enable it. MWC is showing us that innovation never stops, and newer technologies such as in-app payments and wearables will take digital commerce one step further and give CSPs additional services to launch.
Never a dull moment!