Thursday, April 12, 2007

Google e-money License reported on Payment News

Google Obtains eMoney License in UK

A friend of Payments News sends a pointer to a story about Google Payment Limited now being listed as an eMoney licensee by the UK's FSA. If you do a search for Google on the FSA site - it shows an eMoney license was issued to Google Payment Limited on March 19, 2007. PayPal has a similar license - issued February 13, 2004.

US Mobile Banking round-up at Information Week

Three Mobile Banking Developments To Keep Your Eye On

By Elena Malykhina,
03:24 PM ET, Apr 6, 2007

The next time you take out your cell phone to make a phone call or send a text message, don't forget to check your bank account balance, pay your bills, or transfer money to your relatives in another state. These services and others are either already available or will become available by midyear now that financial companies are stepping up their mobile banking efforts.

Mobile banking is finally hitting the United States, which is lagging behind Europe and Asia where consumers can already do basic stuff on their cell phones like check their bank statements, as well as use their cell phones to make purchases in stores and at vending machines. There are three key waves coming from the banks, the credit card companies, and the cellular carriers that you should be aware of:

1. Mobile banking, which uses mobile devices for self-service functions. Several major banks, including Citibank, Wachovia, and Bank of America, have launched mobile applications that will allow customers to view their account balances, pay bills, transfer money, and even call customer service reps with one click -- all using a cell phone or smartphone.

2. Contactless payments, which enables cell phones to be used as payment devices instead of credit cards. As a separate effort, top credit card issuers MasterCard and Visa are paving the way for "contactless" payments, where cell phones serve as electronic wallets for purchases that can be made at CVS, McDonald's, and many other retailers. The phones use Near Field Communication, or NFC, a wireless technology for short-range communications between electronic devices.

3. Mobile marketing, which includes things such as loyalty programs, ads, and electronic coupons. MasterCard plans to offer rewards and special offers via text messages that customers can redeem when they visit stores, as an incentive for using its mobile services. Similarly, Visa will provide customers with electronic coupons on their cell phones as part of its payment-related services. Other companies have similar mobile marketing efforts under way.

"Banks are scrambling today to get customers to sign up for their services," says Richard Crone, of Crone Consulting. There were 236 million U.S. wireless subscribers at the end of 2006 and their data revenue totaled $4.8 billion in the fourth quarter, according to research firm IDC. With increased usage of data services, banks see this as the right time to introduce their mobile apps.

What the banks and the wireless carriers have yet to figure out is how to get consumers to actually use mobile banking and their cell phones as payment devices. Solving the challenge will require a lot of industry collaboration, and a lot of trial and error, of course.

Are you interested in mobile banking or using your cell phone as a wallet? Comments and opinions are welcome! For more information on the topic, look for my mobile banking story in Monday's issue of InformationWeek.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

KushCash launched

There's a new US player on the mobile payments scene, KushCash:

Secure Wireless Transfers (SWT) is opening up entirely new commerce-enabling opportunities by providing a secure alternative mobile payment method for instant, easily accessible cash transactions from anywhere. Consumers can now send and receive money and make purchases securely and inexpensively through its end-to-end authentication and payment processing system. The system uses SMS text messaging for instant notifications providing users with updated, timely account history and transaction alerts. With an easy-to-use interface, support for major cell phone services and models, and unique industry relationships SWT is forming a strong community of consumers around next generation mobile payment solutions. Based in Aliso Viejo, California, SWT was founded in 2005. For more information, visit

From the first persusal, it's got a combination of web-based, app-based and WAP-base functionality, is passing on the card charges for top-up to the user, and is charging payment fees to the user:
a. Sending Money - Once you have deposited funds into your KushCash account it is free to send money to a friends account.

b. Transferring funds from your credit card to your KushCash account - The fee taken from the gross payment sent to your KushCash account is 2.8% plus .30 cents per transaction gateway fee.
c. Transferring funds from your KushCash account to your bank account – The fee is .50 cents per transaction.
d. Receiving Funds – The fee is .50 cents per transaction when receiving funds into your KushCash account.

e. Chargeback - It is your responsibility to insure the integrity of transactions received to your account. Your KushCash account will be charged $35.00 plus the original fees for each chargeback received.
f. Retrieval Requests – The fee of 5.00 per item is charged for KushCash to provide hard copies of transactions.

They have a pretty good website, and seem to have lined up some good early merchants in the sports world. The name's a bit bizarre though: perhaps it's surfer slang?

I'm not to sure about their refer-a-friend promotion though, it functions too much like a pyramid scheme for comfort:

Invite a friend to join. When they accept you, you become their "Kush Line".

As a Kush Line, you will now make 10% of every transaction fee that they accumulate.

If they add a friend, then they become a "Kush Line". You will receive 5% of every transaction fee generated, even if you don't know them.

Any friend generated after that will net you 1% of fees. That's all there is to it. The more friends you add - the more money you can potentially make!