Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Vodafone blocks IPX

Vodafone Blocks IPX in UK

Filed in archive Mobile Commerce by tom on July 11, 2006

Vodafone has thrown a spanner into the works of Ericcson's IPX WAP billing solution in the UK, citing both a Data Privacy issue and a lack of a need for an interim solution before Vodafone's own PayForIt solution launches.
Pointing to the 2003 EU directive on Data Privacy, Jeremy Flynn, Head of Commercial Partnerships at Vodafone said "Web site owners don't have the right to talk to visitors and the Mobile Internet should be the same as the Internet. There is a lot of abuse out there and our interpretation of the EU rules is that the MSIDN cannot be passed to a third party except by a mechanic where the user controls their identity and can opt out".

Flynn doesn't see the need for the Ericsson IPX WAP billing as it is an interim solution. "Payforit will resolve these privacy issues as it includes sorting user permissions" said Flynn.
At the same time, Orange have expressed concerns over the PayForIt solution, technology for which there seems to be very little available public information. The major difference appears to be that PayForIt ties a mobile phone to a credit card for mobile payments, whilst Ericsson's IPX solution allows consumers to purchase items via a WAP transaction that get billed via premium SMS or direct to the mobile bill (Pay Per Event).
According to sources, taking into account variations connected to tariff rate and volume, payouts on content paid for by the Payforit scheme will be 5% to 10% lower than using existing premium SMS for billing.

"This will have a huge impact on take-up of the scheme," said a source. "Orange has totally missed the point. There'll be no reason for content providers to move from premium SMS."

Another source who wished to remain anonymous told the NOC: "This proves the point that some mobile operators are not interested in the third party content business."
Ercisson's Peter Garside agrees that the IPX solution is an interim one, whilst at the same time expressing a desire on the part of content providers to explore this market. As a content provider myself, I have long decried the lack of WAP to SMS connectivity, and the hoops needed to go through to 'register' a mobile number to allow customers to buy content from WAP sites.

Some providers, notably T-Mobile, do provide a mechanism to pass non-identifying information about WAP customers to third party content providers, but only by prior agreement between T-Mobile and the content provider. Such services, such as my own GTIP WAP service are transparent to T-Mobile users, providing a seamless integration betweem the WAP experience and the SMS experience, something that I believe is desperately needed if WAP sales are ever to really become popular.

Oddly the architecture behind PayForIt and similar services looks a lot like an implementation of the concept of Transient Identity, where there is a disconnect between the vendor and the customer that is handled by an interstitial party, in this case the PayForIt service, however in this case it disconnects to the consumer entirely, relying on the PayForIt service to provide all billing and reconciliation services for all goods purchased online.

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