Monday, September 17, 2007

Payforit update at NOC event - 160 Characters

m-Payment: Payforit For Mobile Purchases

Submitted by Mike Grenville on Fri, 14 Sep 2007 17:02

In development for nearly two years and launched in the UK at the begining of September, the industry hopes that consumers will trust Payforit.

Mobile payment initiative, Payforit came into force across all mobile internet services and UK networks officially on September 1, 2007. The payment system was welcomed by the mobile industry; and now key operators, content providers and API's (Accredited Payment Intermediaries) believe the future success of the initiative will rely on the developments made over the coming months.

Dialogue Communications sponsored a NOC - The Future of Payforit seminar in London to look at what the future holds for this payment mechanism. Dialogue's MD, Guillaume Peersman was joined by Iain McCallum of O2, Jeremy Flynn of video to mobile specialists D2See, (formally of Vodafone,) and Phil Cooke of mobile games company I-Play, to discuss where Payforit is heading.

Positive Feedback

pay for it Since going live with Payforit in January 2007, Dialogue says the feedback has been positive, with statistics from content providers and API's demonstrating a clear increase in conversation rates. Dialogue has seen a rise of up to 27 per cent on conversion compared to premium SMS solutions for its connected customers and I-Play is now approaching a 15 per cent conversion rate for customers visiting its mobile site.

"Payforit was in development for nearly two years and I think that now we have created a clear user interface and single click payment method that will be a success and consumers will trust. I believe Payforit will dominate m-payments for some time to come, but it is by no means the finished product and further developments need to be made, which is something all operators and API's are working to achieve over the coming months," explains Guillaume Peersman.

Customer Experience Improvements

Price points have been one area of debate amongst the operators, with the consensus being that a £5 maximum purchase value is not enough to offer a broad range of content, and this rate should be increased to £10. Operators are already working on solutions to tackle this problem and in only a matter of months some may well raise the limits.

Iain McCallum, Head of Interactive Messaging Products at O2, echoes Guillaume's statements: "Improvements need to be made to the customer experience and that is the key issue that Payforit is trying to address. A lot of work and expense, by Accredited Payment Intermediaries and MNO's working together, has gone into optimising the PFI scheme rules to ensure that they are both robust enough to deliver the best possible subscriber experience and can be implemented by our partners with the minimum hassle and complexity. The next few months will, no doubt, throw up issues of concern and the MNO group will study these and fine-tune the scheme rules accordingly."

Consumer awareness is one of the key issues facing the brand. Simply, consumers are not being told what Payforit is and what its purpose is. Operators need to increase the promotion of the system before it can achieve its objectives.

Data Charge Shocks

Data charges involved in buying the content is another major concern for Payforit. Consumers don't know the final amount they will end up paying for a game or music download, as the purchase price does not include the data charges that come with downloading the content. Two solutions were discussed at the seminar including, listing the size of the download at the point of purchase, so the customer can work out how much extra it will cost to download. Secondly, some operators have introduced "all- you-can-eat" data tariffs that remove the worry of not knowing how much you are paying for a download, as all data downloads are included in the monthly line rental cost. This seems to be the way the industry is heading and would remove the barrier of unknown data charges.

On and Off Portal

"The next stage in the Payforit development process is to ensure that the standard is used not only in the off portal market but also on operator portals. For it to truly achieve its goal, the customer needs to see the standard payment screen wherever they buy content, be that on or off portal," said Jeremy Flynn, CEO of D2See.

Currently, on portal content purchases still make up around 25% of the market, therefore it is very much an active area in purchasing content and needs to incorporate the Payforit standard to ensure the user's buying experience is always the same.

Streamlined Subscription System

Subscription services have been available on mobile for many years but the trust in them has diminished over time as customers are unclear as to what they will be charged, when and how. Phil Cooke, CTO at I-Play explained how Payforit could lead to the revival of mobile subscriptions: "With Payforit taking over off portal buying, subscriptions are set for a rebirth as API's now ensure consumers receive all the payment terms, including details of how to unsubscribe and helpline information at the time of purchase. This will hopefully demonstrate to the customer that a streamlined system is behind the subscriptions and all previous problems have been resolved."

In terms of marketing, opt in boxes are currently left ticked on certain networks and unticked on others and there is a feeling amongst some operators that this is an issue that needs to be standardised across the whole industry. In addition to this, there is the matter of a merchant's memory of consumer choices. Put simply, should consumers have to re-tick a box every time they revisit the same merchant?

Payforit will come up against some tough competition over the coming year from systems such as Google Checkout and Paypal Mobile. However, by making some minor developments, this registration free payment tool, which is quick and easy to use, looks set to become the market leading initiative it has always looked likely to be.

PayPoint partners with Telrock - 160 Characters News

m-Payment: Deal Opens Up SMS Utility Payments

Submitted by Mike Grenville on Thu, 06 Sep 2007 13:26

UK cash and internet payments company PayPoint has taken on Telrock to provide mobile payment and meter reading to its utility services customers and top up their mobile phones via text message.

Telrock will provide its mobile payments system textDebit to PayPoint under an exclusive revenue-sharing agreement. Technology provided by Telrock enables end users to make secure payments to clients of PayPoint using SMS.

PayPoint handles over £5 billion in over 400 million transactions annually for more than 5,000 clients and merchants in the UK and Ireland. It also has recently acquired a Romanian mobile top-up operator to which a bill payment service will be added, emulating the UK branded retail network. Dominic Taylor, Chief Executive of PayPoint, commented: "This partnership with Telrock will enable PayPoint to exploit the increasing popularity of mobile payments while broadening its proposition to existing and new clients and offering customers a further convenient way to pay bills and buy other services."

Founded in January 2002 by Russell Robinson and Tim Crowley, Chief Executive, Telrock specialises in the design, development and integration of solutions using mobile technology for payments, money transfers and other mobile-based transaction services such as fraud alerts and account information requests.

Already Popular With Consumers

To use the service consumers pre-register a debit, credit or pre-paid card which can then be used to pay a variety of bills such as energy, telecommunications or water, or top up a prepaid mobile phone. Telrock's mobile payment and customer account servicing platform is already being used by British Gas, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group.

"It's a bridge between cash and Direct Debit payments" said Alistair Clare, COO at Telrock. "Since launching with their MINT card nine months ago, about 4,000 RBS customers can authorise payment of their credit card. Customers have been pleased with it and MINT are now starting to market the service more widely."

SMS meter reading photo: Mike Grenville

Its a service that is proving popular with consumers. SSE have been including SMS as one of the options in their welcome pack since February 2007 and about 10% send a text message with their opening meter reading. "In house surveys show customers are impressed with it" said Clare, " in fact 90% asked why hasn't SMS been used before."

Slow Education Process

"We are in discussion with some of Paypoint's early adopter clients such as Utility companies and second tier operators with 4-5 million customers" said Clare "and we expect to be able to make specific client announcements in the next few months" said Clare.

Telrock have been working with British Gas for several years already for customers to text in their meter reading. Clare said that Telrock is moving to the second stage with some clients with newer billing systems where users would be prompted by SMS to read the meter, a reply with the bill amount would come back by SMS and the customer would authorise payment.

Progress however has been slow with utilities. "There is a big education process to go through" said Clare. "There is a natural tendency among these organisations to be conservative towards new technology and innovations. We expect that our deal with Paypoint will help inspire confidence and grow the whole market."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Gpay - not a big surprise

Now Google targets mobile payments

14:30, Sep 3rd 2007 by Tim Green

Blimey, Google has filed a patent for a mobile payment system being dubbed Gpay.
The patent, filed last year but has only just published, describes how a text message could trigger a “computer-implemented method of effectuating an electronic on-line payment”. That sounds like reverse-billed SMS to us, but no doubt Google will do things differently.

The Gpay patent filing describes a system where a user sends a text message to Google that gives details of a payment to a specified payee. GPay would debit the user’s bank account and credit the payee.

Of course, Google already has its own online payments system called Checkout. It’s a little like PayPal, and was soft launched for mobile earlier this summer.