Hope they have the same millions that LUUP's backers do...
m-Payment: Beem Money In The UK
Submitted by Mike Grenville on Mon, 17 Nov 2008 13:31
A new mobile cash transfer and payment system using SMS has been lanched in the UK.
Mobile Sense has launched a mobile cash and payments system called Beem that via text messaging. Using SMS, it can be used by anyone, on any mobile handset, across any network, and is not tied to any bank.
Users load up their Beem account and 'beem' it to pay for goods and services as well as send money to friends and family. All cash transfers take immediate effect and users can have access to their Beem account 24 hours a day, seven days a week, irrespective of location.
Simple SMS Sign UpSigning up for the service is as simple as sending an SMS. New subscribers simply text 'hello' to Beem 07781 484668 and once they receive a response text back they can choose a password of between 4 and 8 characters to continue. Sign up is free online or just the cost of a text through a mobile phone and once registered users can load up their cash via their debit card and also beem any cash they receive back to their bank.
The only charges for using the service are the costs of sending the texts which are covered by a user's network operator price plan. The service is totally secure and subscribers' details are all kept completely private. Users can even protect their debit card details with a second password.
Kerl Haslam, Beem founder and CEO, said: "Users can even use our 'bank it' facility to text money back to a bank account. If you now forget your cash card or money, there is no need to go via an ATM to get cash, with Beem you can load cash into your account through a simple and secure text message and have access to cash within seconds."
Short Merchant ListThe company makes money by charging a small commission fee to the providers of goods and services, similar to how credit card companies charge. It also charges a fixed fee of 75 pence for users to transfer money from a mobile wallet to a bank account.
Businesses that sign up as a Beem merchant will be able to accept secure payments from customers via text either in store or remotely. The service requires no additional hardware or software. Beem also provides merchants with SMS text, opt-in, opt-out, marketing opportunities. Merchants on board so far with Beem in the UK include several pizza chains, taxis firms and University students unions at Brunel and Hertfordshire. However this short list is not going to generate mass adoption and for it to become "real mobile money" as it claims it will need a wide range of merchants or a cluster for a particular market niche.
The company is in discussions with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games for a cashless payment solution for tickets, travel and merchandise in 2012.
Strong CompetitorsIt has some strong competitors already who, although they have made progress, are still not yet mainstream. For example in the UK PayPal launched mobile in 2006 and started with over 10 million subscribers with 164 million accounts worldwide, though how many use PayPal Mobile is not known. There is also the TextPayMe service that is now powered by Amazon Payments and Luup and Anam Mobile to name a few.
In addition to pushing into the UK market, Mobile Sense has an ambitious aim to be a global company with at least one branch on each continent in the next three years with a global franchising programme through 2009 to cover Brazil, Israel, Africa, Russia, and China.
While in theory mobile payments is a good idea, for it to really take off it has to meet a real consumer need and remove a pain point that they experience. While in some parts of the world such as Kenya, where a large portion of the population are unbanked this has happened, to become widespread in the UK Beem will struggle to find a way to capture both merchants and consumers imagination.