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.

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