in the last 4 weeks, i was talking to sailesh panchal (Enterprise Architect - Payments at Lloyds TSB) and hermann sauer (EDS - Integration Engineering Lead EMEA North/Central) about the future of mobile payment.

there is clearly a need and a benefit to find a solution, but implementations are not available yet (leaving aside lots of POCs that are out there).

one obvious driver is the need to find a replacement for cheque payments. cheque payments are expensive and slow, means neither banks nor customers/retailers like them, but they are still a popular means of settling bills in the UK, Ireland and other countries. in the UK the national payments council has just released the national payments plan, which states that one the ambitions is to find a suitable replacement for cheque payments by 2013. a first step into that direction is the Faster Payment Service that got launched in May 2008.

today (in Ireland) i am using cheques to pay my utility bills and my dentist. in germany i haven't used cheques in a long time. in general i am getting an invoice (e.g. from my doctor) and just pay by electronic funds transfer (EFT). in some cases (e.g. utility bills) i allow direct debit on my account and last but not least for some i have a standing order (e.g. rent). for everything else i am using cash and/or a credit card. i know that this is maybe a simplistic way to look at it, but it allows us to focus on the real nature of a cheque. what can a cheque do, that i cannot do otherwise?
  • a cheque allows me to give money to somebody with no bank account, means i can write a cheque and the person can go the next bank and can get cash for it
  • the payment can be anonymous, means even if the person has a bank account the decision might be not to use any means of EFT
a good summary what a cheque is all about can be found here. the question for me is, what problem mobile payment solutions will solve. currently i cannot see, how they can possibly address the two capabilities that i described above and everything else makes them just another way to transfer money besides EFT and plastic cards.

where is the value in mobile payment? what problems will mobile payments solutions solve? replacing cheques (probably no)? competing with ETF and plastic (probably yes, but then the question is what makes mobile payment solutions superior to EFT and plastic)?



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