Trends in Payments in India – from the eyes of the leading merchant acquirer

 

Today we are with Nitish Asthana of First Data, who provides insights on the fast moving payments scene in India, at this historic stage in the move towards non-cash payments. In this exclusive interview, we touch on key changes that could transform the card industry, and discuss a broad range of topics including E-tailing, Modern Retail, POS and the advent of mobile payments. Nitish shares four major trends that are transforming the way 1.2b consumers pay, as well as creating new opportunities in merchant-to-merchant payments potentially worth over $20b.

 india shopkeepers 1 so

Thanks for taking time out from your busy schedule Nitish! As context please could you share a bit about yourself and your role at First Data?

I am the VP & Head of First Data India Ventures and have also led First Data’s merchant acquiring business in India. At First Data India ventures, we focus on venture investments in POS, e-commerce, mobile commerce and digital payments.

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First Data is the global leader in payment technology and services solutions, operating in over 70 countries with relationships with over 3,500 Financial Institutions and offers a range of services including POS, E-Commerce and mobile (on internet and POS).

In India we are one of the leading merchant acquirers, providing services to over 250,000 merchants. First Data operates through an alliance with ICICI Bank (India’s largest private sector bank), ICICI Merchant Services. Our two lines of business are Merchant Services and Issuing. We offer POS, online, mobile and merchant processing and settlement for a broad range of consumer and business payments. Our issuing platform business runs on VisionPLUS, a First Data product and powers our service to leading banks in India.

 

Nitish, from your key perspective, which market segments seem to hold the most promise?

Activity in the payments space crosses a wide range of transactions across a set of vertical and horizontal segments.

In terms of vertical segments, E-commerce and especially E-tailing (Retail Sales on the Internet) is really important for us. Travel booking on the internet is already heavily penetrated, covering almost 100% of bookings and accounting for 75%-80% of online payments but this is fast reducing to 55% as online payments for retail, telecoms, utilities, insurance and tax take off. We also talk about point-of-sale (POS) as a vertical, within which Modern Retail is progressing very well, growing from just 5% of retail to 20% by 2020.

In terms of horizontal segmentation, large merchants of the country have already progressed in electronic payment, but today we see a lot more opportunity with small stores that accept only cash.

Overall in the market today card payments is a very small market as compared to US, UK, Australia and others but we expect 25-35% growth over the next few years.

 

The overall economic trends are also looking up?

Certainly, if you look at GDP growth, positivity is back! We are looking at a 7.5% growth in GDP expected to be the highest in the world.

A bigger driver for electronic payments is that currently over 90% of retail payments are in cash. The Government vision for less-cash is expected to bring out specific exemptions. Some are likely to relate to tax incentives for merchants and consumers to pay electronically.

If that happens, what is expected to be a $150b card industry over next 4 years could be pushed 50% higher going up to $250b-$275b by 2020. This would be much higher than current estimates, and we would reach an inflection point sooner with this planned government intervention.

 

What about the progress of Aadhaar-linked bank accounts and other key enablers?

Aadhaar has been an incredible journey with millions of customers enrolled. This received a massive boost from the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (Prime Minister’s Benefit Fund) launched a year ago. It has created the rails to transfer benefits from the government, for instance LPG and fertilizer subsidy. NPCI recently confirmed that over 150m bank accounts have already been linked to Aadhaar numbers. All 170m beneficiaries were to be brought under the program by June 30, 2015. Banking inclusion has been greatly enhanced.

Regarding debit card infrastructure, India now has over 560m debit cards. Credit cards have been leading in the last 25 years, but debit cards are a more recent development. 60% of payment volumes are on credit cards despite them being fewer in number. The story so far was around credit but will be around debit cards going forward. I expect the ratio to reach 75% debit to 25% credit in terms of payment volumes.

In short we have a number of key enablers working together: the Aadhaar system enrolling people into electronic id, the push to mobile banking for the unbanked, the push to bank accounts, the roll out of debit cards and new POS infrastructure.

 

Could you please explain India’s position on merchant infrastructure?

In terms of a high level snapshot on merchant acceptance infrastructure, India has about 15 million merchants of which only 1 million accept cards. This is why card payments traction is so low. The barrier to acceptance is that terminal infrastructure is expensive, at a cost of around $150 - $200 per terminal. At this level return on investment on new terminals is difficult to justify. We have focused on bringing down the cost of a terminal to $25-$30, through the use of mobile POS. When you look at the last 8-9m merchants, mobile to mobile payments without infrastructure is the way to go.

POGO1First Data has launched our Pogo solution in July 2014, deployed at smaller merchants. At current take up levels the price point is higher but merchants do not pay upfront, we recoup the cost from on-going payments.

 

Could you tell us about the new services you launched recently?

We are one of the leaders in E-Commerce payments and operate across a number of categories. To simplify customer experience we are looking to launch our revamped internet payment gateway which would also work from mobile phones. Universal payment options also cover internet banking, integration to wallets, EMI products, payment in home currency and seamless plug in to all shopping carts and a mobile optimized interface as well. We are looking to launch this in next 2-3 months.

We are also adding a number of features to our MPOS launched last year. At that level of transactions we can simplify documentation for a merchant to quickly come on board. We’re launching a product for payments and other applications such as ERP, accounting, loyalty and a hardware/software.

Essentially small sized retailers have not invested in counter top infrastructure. Some may have PCs, some may not even have that. What we want to provide is a package deal for a small player by “miniaturising” the functionality used by large merchants: ERP, bar code reader, printer and other features. We believe that addressing the needs of small merchants is of great importance.

 

How about merchant to merchant applications and do you have estimates on how much the India B2B market is worth?

If you look at B2B, that too is very interesting for us as we address cash and carry. In India the market includes stores such as Walmart and Metro Cash and Carry. We’ve done a prepaid program, also a credit card with limit, accepted by closed group of retailers. Other interesting opportunities are around travel, for low cost airlines to sell their inventory and enjoy more card acceptance. The third interesting area is procurement that can help both parties optimise working capital.

Our own best estimates for the size of the B2B market is $15b to $20b of available market across the country.

 

How has the Indian payments market changed over the last year?

The first major trend has been the move from credit to debit. In the past cards were used more for discretionary expense, now the trend is towards non-discretionary, as consumers use cards instead of cash in their wallet. Supermarkets are adopting cards and issuers have provided a lot more debit cards.

Secondly, it is contactless. We were the first to introduce contactless terminals. For small value transactions, you can now tap and go. I believe Contactless could be very important going forward.

The third trend is mobile especially through mobile internet. India has 900m mobile phones and 300m smartphones, growing to 500m. People prefer to shop on their mobile rather than using their laptops or PCs. This is higher even than the US, and considering how important the Indian market is apps are being rolled out and payment systems are evolving fast. Mobile optimised pages and plug-ins are being rolled out. We expect this market to reach $35 million.

The fourth major trend has been the growth of our local network, RuPay, similar to China UnionPay. In the past Visa and MasterCard held dominant positions in India, but issuance in the last 18 months has changed things. NPCI RuPay has issued a huge number of cards and will play a very important role as all the new bank accounts use RuPay.

 

How important will the physical card be in India?

I think plastic cards will continue to be very relevant in the near future. Mobile wallets have not been adopted as fast as hoped and have been around prepaid rather than card in store.

I believe however that the form of plastic will change though, with more Chip & PIN EMV cards being rolled out as we speak.

 

Do you have any idea of the number of contactless cards and terminals?

I’d say terminals accepting contactless cards are in the region of 20,000-25,000. Also, if you talk to top acquirers, they’re all talking of deploying a large number.

We expect pretty much all of our new deployments to be contactless this year. Over 80% of the transactions on POS are less than $30 and could qualify as contactless. Some categories would go better, for instance super-markets and transit.

 

Transport has not come up as much as it could, do you see this changing?

A number of metros are leading in the investment in tap and go. Toll is not yet integrated and as it is not interoperable it means that people cannot yet buy prepaid. With regard to Prepaid, services Mobikwik offers card payment service for Android and iOS users and now supports paying for Uber.

The form factor of cards will change, as this increasingly moves to Chip & PIN and contactless rather than magnetic stripe as the price of contactless terminals is not that much more.

 

What significant changes are likely in the way people pay in India over the near future?

We are keen to look at in particular in terms of how government participates. Deploying acceptance infrastructure and now systemic incentives will help non-cash payments to reach tipping point.

Everyone understands the cost of cash. The goal is to get people to prefer electronic payments over cash. However affinity to cash is too high and must be broken. Government incentives made available to all, including merchants, consumers, acquiring banks and others, will help to lower costs and promote adoption.

 

Nitish, thanks for sharing your insights with us. I wish you the very best for your initiatives as India continues to adopt non-cash payments at this unprecedented pace.

 


imageNitish Asthana is the VP and Head of First Data India Ventures, focused on venture investments in POS, e-commerce, mobile commerce and digital payments. He has led the merchant acquiring business for First Data- ICICI Merchant Services (ICICI MS) and had overall responsibility over ICICI MS revenue lines across the company’s POS and Ecommerce businesses, acceptance and acquiring product solutions, sales, business development and marketing.

 


LIviewport_india_2014 For more information on “Digital Money in India”, Shift Thought’s unique 360-degree coverage of the Indian payments scene, or to gain access our self-service portal with the latest knowledge on the ecosystem, initiatives, regulations and more,  just email us at contact@shifttthought.com.

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Payments systems in the US – A sleeping giant awakes

 

This weekend as we joined in wishing our American friends and family around the world a wonderful Independence Day, my thoughts turned to how Payment Systems are changing in historic ways in America, in many ways setting off a chain reaction that will transform the way we transfer value, not just in the US but world-wide.

 

The danger was that the land that introduced the first universal credit card back in 1950 had done such a good job of meeting consumer needs that it would be hard to get people to adopt new methods. It took a number of different initiatives of a decade or more to finally get this to happen.

 

Mobile Payments starts to take off at last

Did you know that mobile payments in America are expected to grow from $3.5b spent by 16 m shoppers in 2014 to a massive $27.5b by next year? Even then this will still be just a fraction of the $4.3t retail store payments made in the US. The common man or woman in America is seeing changes in the way they pay for tolls on the roads and how they pay each other, as well as pay bills and shop online.

 

Digital wallets – not there yet, but on the move

For the longest time it seemed as if this would not happen, especially after the strong push towards digital wallets in 2011 seemed to fizzle out. However now it seems this was simply the calm before the storm. Each side has reinforced itself as major battle commences to win hearts, minds and mobile wallets, but this time I believe what happens in America will not stay in America.

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The US market becomes NFC-ready

Finally this year we have seen important moves towards new forms of mobile payments vi a NFC, QR Codes, MST, BLE and more, with a reported 70% increase in mobile commerce in the US since 2012.

On the one hand US POS is finally beginning to support EMV, as the October 2015 deadline looms.  As the difference between the cost of contactless and non-contactless terminals is not vast, retail outlets are increasingly becoming NFC-ready.

 

Retailers look for online and mobile innovation

On the other hand top US Retailers have finally realised that the future of their brands depends on a golden braid of inextricably woven marketing and payments campaigns that rely on ever deeper market understanding to help get, keep and grow their customer base.

As in other countries, transport is becoming one of the first applications for consumer adoption of digital payments, as existing methods for paying get removed and replaced by new ones. Online payments are now widespread, but fear of loss of identity and security breaches still leaves a gap to be filled, causing a lot of focus on biometrics, authentication and fraud prevention. However for adoption to deepen across America the real driver will be offers and marketing campaigns.

 

Marketing  and Payments: Perfect Partners

Here is where mobile payments comes into it’s own, with a unique appeal with respect to marketing. By 2016 over 196 million smartphone users become accessible to persuasion to buy in new ways. When Amazon was founded on July 5, 21 years ago (Happy Anniversary Amazon!), Jeff Bezos and team showed that deep understanding of what we want can actually be used to help us in finding what we’re looking for without proving overly offensive. Now we are at the cusp of a new revolution, as every possible route is being explored in pursuit of a new American Dream. The subtlety with which the new marketing capabilities are used will largely decide how quickly people adopt new payment methods.

 

Loyalty provides an incentive for change

Today store-issued credit cards and store rewards are being added to Apple Pay, Google Android Pay. Soon Walgreens hopes their 80 million members of Balance Rewards program will be able to use loyalty points with Apple Pay, and all eagerly anticipate smartphone, device and watch payments to increase. The new mobile payments methods will allow consumers to save on their shopping, by directly saving with the use of loyalty rewards.

 

American providers look for world markets

But this time American providers have a much larger canvas. If they get the digital loyalty-payments nexus right, there are other markets in a high state of readiness across the Atlantic that can help their brands grow. Apparently I am not the only one to leave my loyalty card behind, on the day when I find a retailer has one of their nicest sales on - in the UK unused loyalty cards reportedly cost us shoppers an estimated £5.2 billion.

 

The future – real time payments

But as I have said before, the real value comes when channels are made to properly work together, and this is what is starting to happen in the US. On my recent visit a short while ago I found payments really getting embedded into very interesting user experiences thanks to growing investment in FinTech.

Consumers and merchants are likely to see a lot of value-add over the coming months and years as Americans increasingly declare independence from cash payments, especially if payments can become real-time, something that has proven elusive until now. Importantly, it will not be long before the ecosystems grow beyond the US, and partnerships that are under formation now are likely to be important at least in the first phase of expansion.

 

Happy Independence Week America!

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Mobile wallets – helping consumers enjoy life more in Canada

 

In honour of Canada Day today, I fell to thinking about how mobile payments may be able to help folk lead happier lives, for instance by providing more opportunities to enjoy things exactly the way we like them, through the great things technology can now do for us.

 

Chances are if you live in Canada you will probably already be waving you card to pay today, as I do here in the UK. Thanks to debit payment network Interac having set a 2012 deadline for adoption of Chip-and-PIN for merchant liability shift, Canada pulled way ahead of the US. By February 2014 over 75% of major retailers already accepted contactless payments, with just 2% of retailers doing so in the US, leading Ben Myers to argue Why Apple Pay Should Have Launched in Canada First.

 

You are probably less likely to pay using your mobile phone though from what I hear consumers already do so at McDonalds, Loblaws, Starbucks and others. Now with the re-launch of Suretap mobile wallet a few days ago, use will hopefully broaden, as the ecosystem includes 5 mobile operators, 38 credit cards and 30 gift cards, with support to NFC as well as barcodes. Recently Humza Teherany wrote an interesting post on the status of mobile payments in Canada.

 

So the question is will Canadians be tempted to pay with their mobile phones at last? I believe this depends on how the services are positioned to help the merchants and consumers. Being a foodie, here is an example that appeals to me, to speculate same time next year how things might look, if all goes well.

 

As we all want what we can’t have, it caught my eye that Burger’s Priest has a special, succulent offer just for Canada Day today. It is a surf & turf Confederation burger, with all the good things I associate with Canada: topped with Ontario-farmed bacon, Nova Scotia lobster tail, and Quebec maple syrup.

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But what if you preferred just the surf or just the turf? Or more importantly, what if you’d love a burger but are on a low salt, low fat or gluten free diet? One of the huge problems the food industry has is catering to the different preferences. Sure we can state a few preferences when we drive by, but to save embarrassment of holding up a queue of cars I expect many consumers may prefer to simply stay away.

 

Here is where mobile wallets such as the TD Bank/PC Financial Ugo or Suretap, now preloaded on Rogers devices could come into their own, hopefully before Apple Pay captures market in Canada. Once you’ve ordered and paid with a mobile wallet, it should be quite easy to say “Same again”, order ahead, pay as you please and get your burger where you please, when you please and how you please. The new processes could do so much more. And if it is your birthday, you may even be surprised with a little something special – picture that!

 

So perhaps come July the 1st, 2016 more people may be enjoying more of what they like, while still staying healthy and fit.  Anyway, all this wishful thinking was just a prelude to wishing Happy Canada Day to all our friends north of the world’s longest land border. I may not be able to share that burger with you (yet), but we can raise a glass of bubbly together!

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How Android Pay changes Mobile Payments–and why you should care

 

Now that details regarding Android Pay have emerged, I thought it would be interesting to contemplate on how key mobile payments “ecosystem builders” as I term them, stand with respect to the on-going mobile payments game. Here is the State of Play in the Mobile Payments Game, post Android Pay

 

The latest move is Google’s announcement of Android Pay at the Google I/O conference today. This allows customers to pay at retail stores by simply unlocking their phone, without the need to open an app, in a “Tap and go” experience. Loyalty programs and offers can be applied at checkout. Also the contactless terminal receives not just the payment details but also loyalty points and offers.

Assuming things go to plan as per announcements, here are my thoughts on where players are positioned.

AndroidPay

 

The Prize

Over 2014 to 2016, the mobile commerce market is set to grow by a factor of five. This is 10 times faster than the E-commerce market. But by 2016, with less than 500 million mobile payments users, and a market worth $600 billion there is ample scope for further growth. PayPal recently announced that while online and mobile shopping accounts for $2.5 trillion in annual retail sales, with the convergence of the online and physical world, a unified world of commerce could be worth $25 trillion, resonating arguments I made in my book “The Digital Money Game”.

 

Key Players

The current scene of the battle is playing out in the US with heavy-weights placing large bets on paying by mobile phone.  Big players currently making investments include Apple, Google, PayPal, Samsung, Facebook, Visa, MasterCard, MCX and others. Also there are several mobile payments providers who have obtained some traction in the market and may now be up for grabs.

Some have folded their hands – Softcard (formerly ISIS) was recently acquired by Google, as an important precursor to their current play, as now handsets from AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile can come pre-loaded with Android Pay.

 

Key Enablers

Once an area dominated by mobile operator SIM-SE standards, the dam has burst and we have a number of possible technologies emerging. Samsung’s embedded approach recently announced is similar to eSE introduced by Apple for ApplePay and both work with tokenization services of card schemes. HCE and tokenisation hybrid models first introduced by Google for Android Kitkat (4.4) have since resulted in the launch of a number of pilots around the world. Meanwhile QR Codes have seen good traction, being behind some of the best adopted services, such as the Starbucks Wallet.

Now Android Pay says their service is secure as they won’t send your actual credit or debit card number with each payment. Instead a virtual account number represents the account information. Android Device Manager is to allow consumers to instantly lock their device from anywhere, secure it with a new password or even wipe it clean of personal information. 

 

Country Positioning

Apple Pay is still largely US only, although reports have emerged from Singapore of people successfully using their Apple Watch to make payments there. Android Pay has a huge potential in terms of reach but for now nothing much seems to be clear in terms of when it will launch outside of the US. While Apple benefits from premium user status, in terms of sheer numbers , once the gameplay extends out of the US, Android is better placed in terms of penetration.

US is pulling ahead, but China, India will not be far behind as they develop apps to meet the requirements of the US and then seek to bring out cheaper and more appropriate services for Asian and emerging markets. Europe though risks being left behind in all this, pity, with it (arguably) being the birth-place of e-money.

 

Customer Adoption

Recent reports claim $2 out of every $3 spent using contactless payments across Visa, Mastercard, and American Express were being made with Apple Pay.  

PayPal now with Paydiant seeks to challenge this thanks to Paydiant’s earlier work with MCX.  This month PayPal reports it processes nearly 12.5 million payments for customers every single day.

Now Android Pay promises to offer better ease of use than Google Wallet, benefiting from support for fingerprint authentication in Android M. Also with pre-loaded handsets the only challenge that remains is having led the horse to the water, to actually get it to drink: as several steps will still be needed before customers actually make their first mobile payments transaction.

Samsung Pay though claims potential acceptance at 30 million merchant locations worldwide, with near universal acceptance thanks to Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) magstripe emulation platform, LoopPay.

 

Reactions from the rest of the ecosystem

Merchants are signing up to many of the new services, whilst also engaged in MCX and so far tending to favour the QR Code approach.

Schemes are not taking sides. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover have announced support to Android Pay, as also with other services. In general schemes are keen to support all options, something that brings joy to their investors.

Mobile operators are on a back foot, but regrouping – more co-operation, greater focus on transport (such as Mi-FARE) where they still hold an advantage, and a continued emphasis on security – though biometrics, tokenisation and the passage of time will leave this argument somewhat weakened.

For now banks can play with the different providers, but where will they invest and how long will it take them? The banks in the US are moving quickly – USAA and US Bank have already declared their support for Android Pay. Citibank had been quick to provide the support needed by Google Wallet.

Regarding processors, for Android Pay Google is partnering with Braintree, CyberSource, First Data, Stripe and Vantiv to make integration easier. There is a huge opportunity from tokenisation which is up for grabs and processors need to also back every horse, while continuing to build the required infrastructure.

 

Outlook for Mobile Payments

This further confirms the growing fragmentation, with potentially myriad implementations as service providers seek to navigate a murky minefield of patents relating to mobile payments, and still bring out something that helps maintain some control over large, desirable customer segments.

What is quite clear though is that massive disruption to existing business models is now well and truly on the cards. Current retail, banking and payment systems must consider their roadmaps as payments becomes invisible, embedded, transparent and often free. The future of payments is in the cloud, but could this result in massive “honey pots”?

When will Android Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and PayPal’s newest services launch across Europe, UK, Canada, Australia, Poland Germany, Singapore and other countries ripe for these services? And where does Android Pay leave Google Wallet? A lot of important, yet unanswered questions that will become clearer in the next few months perhaps.

 

Charmaine Oak

Author of The Digital Money Game, co-author Virtual Currencies – From Secrecy to Safety

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June 10 at 13:30 at PayExpo 2015 Mobile Money Europe, London.

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Trends in Mobile Money and Mobile Financial Services – Views from a veteran

 

The origins of Mahindra Comviva date back to 1999. Since then the company has enabled mobile operators and financial institutions around the world to address opportunities presented by money going digital. As part of Shift Thought’s assessment of the state of the market, it was a real pleasure to speak to Srinivas Nidugondi, to obtain his views on the latest trends and future directions. In this post I share highlights of our discussion on mobile money and mobile financial services.

 

Srinivas, thanks for your time today. Could you please give us a bit of background about your expertise and your role at Comviva?

 

imageI head the mobile financial solutions unit at Mahindra Comviva. For four years now, I head the entire commerce portfolio within Comviva. We have 3 verticals that include commerce, content and data, all with the underlying theme of mobility.

Within our horizontal of managed services, our fastest & largest pillar is commerce. I look at the overall opportunity, to grow our operations into a leadership position. I have a background in banking and payments, commerce and smartcards. My last position was at ICICI bank where I was Head of Internet Banking platform and Mobile Banking and worked on the launch of ICICI’s first mobile banking app 8 years ago; further I was involved in a collaborative offering with Vodafone to cater to the unbanked and under banked segments in India.

 

Could you please give us a brief background about Comviva?

 

imageWe’ve been around for 15 years, beginning with the Telecom Revolution in India and other emerging markets focussing on products that would help mobile operators, in our capacity as part of the Bharti group.

Our mobiquity® Money solution now has over 50 deployments in 40 countries, enabling over 35 million registered customers to transact approximately USD 13.5 billion transactions annually.

Over the last five years we have streamlined and also broad-based our focus. As a product company we complement Tech Mahindra’s IT services and also obtain access to new geographies, such as our recent forays into North America, Europe and Australia. Further, we have been able to penetrate into Latin America with several deployments on-going across the region.

 

Could you give us highlights of the kinds of products and services, and the kind of competition you face?

 

In our mobile financial services unit our philosophy is to leverage mobility, commerce & payment services. What this means is we do not just focus on providing payments solutions but are experts in the whole commerce process. Also we have refocused from mobile to mobility, to cover new devices that I expect will become an active part in the way people transact, for instance through wearables like Apple Watch or Google Glass.

We focus on payments behaviour within each segment that includes consumers, businesses and merchants. So we look at a diverse set of scenarios that range from under banked consumers to evolved consumers to large merchants. We are one of the largest providers for Mobile Money in the world, with services provided to pretty much every major mobile operator.

We are going up the value chain with services such as mobile wallets, mobile payments, and QR codes, BLE, HCE, NFC and Apple Pay and offering these solutions to banks, processors and retail industries apart from the traditional customer base of telecom operators. Our recent customers include banks in the North America and Asia pacific regions as well as a new age retail chain in South America. And further, we are working with a telecom operator in Europe for launching NFC based payments. Our competitors include for instance C-SAM, Toro, Airtag and Monetise.

On the business and merchant side we offer an integrated payment solution payPLUS that allows both large and medium merchants as well as SMEs to use their mobile phones as a POS, and we work with First Data and not just small & medium - there is a market for mobility based for insurance, e-commerce down to small and medium.

We are entering the US through one of the largest processors where competition is different. We don’t really see Square and iZettle as our competition as we don’t go direct to market but rather work with banks and processors. We also face localised competitions such as from Easytap in India.

 

What are some of the major implementations you’ve been involved in around the world?

 

We have over 50 mobile money implementations including a number of implementations with Airtel, Orange, Econet Wireless, Grameenphone, Banglalink, Tigo and others. In Bangladesh we are deploying with DBBL, one of the largest banks in the country.

We are working with First Data and other large processors and also with some of the largest banks for HCE, MasterPass. We are with the largest 4G operator in India for Mobile POS and Mobile Wallet. Some of our latest wins include a retailer in Chile, and US work with a processor for mobile POS, and a wallet for a bank in Canada.

 

In 2014, mobile money service became interoperable in 3 new markets. Could you tell us a bit about how this works and how effective this strategy has proved?

 

I don’t think every market could be a success. This is a function of multiple factors. In Kenya Safaricom became successful with a position of leader in the mobile business. Now Tanzania is becoming an overall leader in mobile money, but there no one operator has a monopolistic position.

Mobile money has taken off where there is low banking penetration and high mobile penetration. Agents must find it viable. Also the services need to go beyond just P2P or Cash-in/Cash-out. People must not just withdraw cash but make payments through their mobile money account. That is when profitability goes up.

It is also really important to be able to offer remittances. There is a service called Terra that is getting all the operators together for this to make the money flows easier in corridors such as Mozambique to Malawi, Zimbabwe to Malawi and South Africa to Zimbabwe.

If each operator has say a maximum of 40% market share, this means that 60% of the market is excluded, so interoperability is not a luxury but is critical for operators to explore in each market.

 

What are some of the other trends you observed in mobile money in 2014?

 

Mobile Money is used in a developmental context, where third party provides bring financial services to people who don’t have access to them.

I observed three key trends in mobile money over 2014.

Firstly, the evolution to cover more services has been recognised to be of huge importance. From cash-in/ cash-out, it is now about enabling every transaction that people have to make. So this is interoperability in the context of payments.

Secondly, there is a focus on interoperability in the context of remittances. We saw a spurt in transactions with Tigo and Airtel making their transactions interoperable in Tanzania.

Thirdly, it’s about how to build a path to offer a full suite of services, not just mobile money. We’ve had to solve for enabling payments, micro-loans, investments and insurance, so as to build a “One-Stop Shop” for all these services.

 

Did regulations have to change in order to enable these trends and new services added over 2014?

 

No I think the regulations did allow it, but it was a matter of the maturity level having grown over the last 3 years. As this grows further we’re seeing more such examples in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and elsewhere.

 

What is the outlook for mobile money going into 2015?

 

I see an evolution of the services to straddle multiple areas. From over-the-counter and one time transactions it’s now all about the mobile wallet. This needs a better understanding of the end-to-end customer journey and experience.

 

Srinivas, thanks very much for your time today. It has been a great pleasure speaking to you. I wish you the very best for your success in 2015 and beyond.

 

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Srinivas Nidugondi is Senior Vice President at Mahindra Comviva, based in Bengaluru, India and has led the Mobile Financial Solutions area in Comviva since 2011.

Srinivas brings a keen interest in financial inclusion, especially as enabled by mobile phone and digital channels and has a wealth of experience in banking, payments, Internet and e-commerce. He set up & led the business for online banking and mobile payments in a large multinational bank and has led product management & business development in start-ups and IT product companies.

 

Charmaine Oak

Author of The Digital Money Game, co-author Virtual Currencies – From Secrecy to Safety

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http://www.linkedin.com/in/charmaineoak

Join me on Twitter @ShiftThoughtDM and The Digital Money Group on LinkedIn

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How payments changed in UK in 2014, and the perfect storm brewing for 2015

 

We in the United Kingdom already use so little cash that we could easily have gone the way of the Nordics, where consumers have such good payment systems that mobile payments took a back seat. Yet this year the UK pulled ahead in The Digital Money Game. At the player category level too we saw major upsets to the apple-carts of more than one category of providers, and a perfect storm is now in the brewing for others.

While the acceleration happened on several levels, in this blog I focus on how mobile payments took off this year and consumers now enjoy a raft of payment services on the go. It is fortunate that the Payments Council, Vocalink and Zapp had time to get a head start, as the likes of Apple Pay and Alipay prepare to descend on the UK in early 2015.

What do British consumers really need?

ukIn the UK with a population of 64 million, we have over 84 million mobile connections and more than 72% of these are smartphones. An increasing number of ‘phablets’ are rapidly coming into use.  We have 90.5% banked and a high penetration of internet services of over 84%.

We take internet banking for granted, and have enjoyed bank transfers in minutes for years now, thanks to Faster Payments. An estimated 5.7 million mobile banking transactions take place daily in the UK. We expect to pay everywhere with cards, with over 55 million credit cards and 95 million debit cards issued over the last year.

So do we really need mobile payments? We may feel overcharged by our banks, and while we may resent surcharges on card payments at some merchants in general domestically the use of cash is more of a lifestyle choice than a necessity. I can’t recall when I last used a cheque book. Yet survey results this month claim that enthusiasm for mobile payments has skyrocketed over the last 15 months, with 44% of those polled prepared to even switch accounts to access mobile payments.

London transport goes cashless

Absence of a real need may be one reason why the promise of NFC remained unfulfilled since 2005, but neither consumers nor merchants quite invited it in- until recently. I have been closely involved in projects involving mobile payments and NFC since the early days when Transport for London (TfL) was considered to be the major prize that everyone worked hard to win. Yet it took a decade before mobile payment services on the TfL network launched and even today while it is possible to pay using mobile phones, people are just beginning to use their contactless cards. While in theory mobile payments are available on EE and Vodafone, in practice some elements of the consumer experience remain to be ironed out.

Contactless payments – here at last!

imageIt was quite a novelty to see the new Barclaycard contactless payment gloves trialled for Christmas shopping at some stores this season. The Barclaycard gloves have an embedded contactless chip that is linked to a credit or debit card to pay for transactions of up to £20. Contactless payments are also supported by the Barclaycard PayTag on London buses, McDonalds, Pret, Starbucks and many other chain stores.

We’ve had contactless payments infrastructure building up for years now, accelerated by the 2012 Olympics, attracting major investments from Visa Europe and others. Today across the UK, an estimated 300,000 terminals accept contactless cards. There are over 48.3m contactless cards issued, with a quarter of all plastic new cards being contactless-enabled. Over 2014 UK consumers are expected to spend £2 billion through contactless payments,

What does it mean for the consumer in everyday life?

As a British consumer, paying for things has now become easier. Apart from the danger of card clash, for which we have been most soundly educated, we have to be savvy to protect ourselves from a constant stream of marketing offers. From the consumer perspective, the winners are those who use the new features to shop smarter, save money and stick to their budget.

We now need even less cash, and at stores there are many more self-service checkout points that there were in 2012. You won’t have to tote around a load of loyalty cards either – Tesco has already begun to trial their PayQwiq service at 32 stores. Triallists use the online grocery service and add card details for use through the app. In store they buy up to £400 a day, sign into the app with a four-digit PIN and pick the card they want to use. A QR Code appears on their phone which the till scans to take payment and credit them with Clubcard points.

Life has become easier in many ways. Just as you can easily hail a cab and pay for it through the Uber app, something that London black cabs have not been too pleased about, expect more “Uber-like” innovations wherever there are pain points to be found.

New ways to pay: Pingit, Pay-em or Zapp-em?

paymThis April the Payments Council launched an important service called Paym. This allows convenient transfer of money between participating UK bank account holders. Earlier, Barclays supported Pingit, since 2012 as a great new way to send money in minutes using a phone, but Paym is integrated into customers’ existing mobile banking or payment apps as an additional way to pay, making it possible to send and receive payments using just a mobile number.

Customers register their phone number and the account they want payments made into with their bank or building society and people can then pay directly into the account using just a mobile number – no sort codes or account numbers are needed.

How Paym works

To send a payment, you select the mobile number to pay from your list of contacts, along with an amount and a reference. Behind the scenes the sender’s bank accesses the Paym database to confirm that the recipient is registered with the service and to retrieve their bank or building society account details.

The app helps to confirm details and receive immediate confirmation. The real magic behind this is managed by the Faster Payments Service or by the LINK network, whether or not the recipient phone is on or within coverage. In most cases the payment reaches the recipient account almost immediately and they see it in recent transactions on their account.

How Zapp proposes to work

zappZapp, announced early in 2014 now claims partnerships with major merchants including Asda, Sainsbury, House of Frasers and more. People will be able to pay for goods and services using Zapp, authorising the transaction from their mobile banking app. The payment will be made directly from their bank account, with the use of tokens to offer better security.

What is most interesting really is the effect this will have in enabling payments to small businesses. Shaving off pennies on each transaction can bring welcome relief to a number of traders and servicemen who can expect to take payments using their mobile phones.

A perfect storm brewing

If you are a provider, this is no time to be complacent. Consumers are set to “select and forget” their means of payment and many will make their choice in 2015. Merchants too are selecting their partners just now.

With Paym, banks continue to compete through P2P services that bear their own brand and can be differentiated in some ways. Zapp, on the cards for (delayed) launch in early 2015 will further put the banks in the driving seat as far as payments go.

Weve, a joint initiative of mobile operators in the UK was to roll out Pouch but has already announced it would close the wallet this year. With the HCE initiative announced by the card schemes in February this year, mobile operators no longer dictate terms with regard to NFC services, and in the UK also have the larger consideration of M&A on their minds, with the proposed acquisition of EE by BT on the cards.

applepayWith Apple Pay, already in use in the US and preparing to enter the UK market, I think we may expect a mega-battle on the cards for 2015. Google Wallet, Amazon and others are already highly active in the market.

Besides, we have not even begun to discuss the wider digital money picture. This includes a host of innovation from newly funded players including not just Fintech startups but well-funded Alipay, richer by $25 billion with the largest IPO having come through this year, and WorldRemit and Transferwise, expanding rapidly in remittances.

UK then is the place to watch. Shift Thought continues to do in-depth research on this market. Our detailed interviews with leading UK providers will shortly be published. Do drop me a line at contact@shiftthought.com if you have further questions.

Photo Credits: Promotional material from Barclaycard, Apple Pay, Zapp and Paym

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Shaping the Future of Payments in the Nordics, Baltics and beyond

 

I recently caught up with Kristian T. Sørensen (KS), Senior Manager Corporate Strategy at Nets Denmark to seek his expert views on payments in Northern Europe.

imageAs a Member of the Board of Directors at Mobey Forum, Mr. Sorensen has helped to shape the direction of the development of mobile wallets and mobile payments in Europe. We discuss his experiences as Senior Manager, Mobile Payments and E-Commerce at Nets Denmark, and relating to his new portfolio. It was a privilege to understand more about the payments market in Northern Europe and his views on the future of mobile payments.

Founded in 1968, Nets is a key provider of payments, cards and information services in the Nordic market, as it manages key products including BankAxept, Betalingsservice, Dankort, NemID, Mobilpenge, eFaktura and Avtalegiro.

 

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Nets

Kristian WalletAt Nets I was tasked with co-ordination of mobile payments and e-commerce initiatives across business units, and over the last couple of years those initiatives have matured and got absorbed into the appropriate business units. Recently Nets has been acquired by Advent International, ATP and Bain Capital and is in the process of growing the business, and I trust that mobile services including mobile payments will play an important role in this.

This is therefore an exciting time for me personally, as my current role in strategy includes direction for mobile payments. Things are really starting to happen, after many years of discussions, pilots and bilateral initiatives we are starting to see fundamental change and more interoperability.

Northern Europe has been in a leadership position in digital money. What changes have you seen in the way people pay?

Yes, Nets is fortunate to be working across the Nordics. In Denmark & Norway we enjoy a central position and we also operate in Finland, Sweden and Estonia.

The Nordic countries have been leaders in transformation to cashless payments. I was in one of the large Danish banks and part of the transition to digital banking. As people got access to the Internet at home, they found self-service useful and online banking really caught on. As smartphone penetration was also higher than in other regions we naturally expected to be leaders in mobile payments by default, but that proved not to be the case.

 

So, surprisingly regarding contactless card initiatives the Nordics were not first, nor the fastest!

This was because a number of the services we already have are so successful and cost-efficient. Card payment is widespread even for paying for just a cup of coffee. We needed more than just a new way to pay.

 

In Denmark it is not a problem living without cash.

I only carry currencies other than my own – I never need cash at home. With that in mind we had to deliver something that brings not just payments but also commerce to the next level. We had to look at mobile payments in a much broader context than just transactional payments.

 

We had to add context to payments to make the transition to mobile attractive to consumers.

This links well with the work I do at Mobey Forum, devising wallets to broaden the reach of issuers, and value added services including coupons, loyalty and membership benefits. Although coupons are not widely used in the Nordic region, this is changing with recent new legislation that allows for an increased use of coupons. But although coupons may present an interesting use case, we can’t stop there.

 

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One of the major drivers is IDENTITY, which underpins many use cases.

Identity services are important, and in this space Nets is a major provider as we run identity schemes in Denmark and Norway. All of a sudden once you solve the problem of digital identity, you start covering all the use cases the leather wallet supports: payment credentials, membership, loyalty, identity and more. In Denmark there is one identity all banks and authorities use and moving this to mobile is a key feature that will drive mobile adoption going forward.

 

Could you please share more about NFC, mobile payments and contactless payments using stickers in the Nordic region?

In Norway we are seeing mobile wallet solutions being brought to market – we are implementing a mobile wallet solution for Eika Kredittbank and in terms of contactless cards in Norway, more than 1 million are expected next year. In Denmark the first banks have started to issue contactless cards and recently an announcement was made to enable Dankort for contactless payment by Q3 2015. In Finland mobile payments have been widely used for some time.

Denmark and Norway were held back due to lack of acceptance infrastructure, as through a PCI compliance waiver terminals were not replaced. Over this year the situation has changed and 80-90% contactless terminals are contactless ready. Moreover, the kinds of terminals ready are those with very high transaction volume, at leading supermarkets for instance. So we expect a lot of initiatives to start now, and we expect contactless payments to pick up.

Sweden has been somewhat reluctant towards contactless & NFC. It has been different from the rest of the Nordics, with a more fragmented landscape, lots of trials and different concepts. This fragmented market has however impacted both issuers and merchants who are unsure and therefore reluctant to invest. With Apple committing to NFC now, Sweden is also expected to move in that direction. Nets have increased presence in Sweden through acquisition of a major POS provider and we are now in a better position to actively address the Swedish market.

 

Nets seem also well positioned to address Baltic markets including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. I see Nets has been chosen by Danske Bank as partner for entering the card acquiring markets in Latvia and Lithuania.

Yes, the Baltics have a lot of similarities to the Nordic countries, as well as being neighbouring countries. We find great benefits and synergies of working there as our services apply well to the Baltics.

 

Regarding the important issue of Tokenisation, I recently read an analysis from Mercator saying this may give more of the revenue to the network as opposed to processors. What is your opinion?

This is a natural evolution from the schemes for securing their place in the ecosystem. The whole card infrastructure was created to offer a convenient interface to bank accounts. To move money from bank accounts customers had to log in. Cross-border transactions in particular were a problem. Now with the spread of mobile devices we carry our own piece of infrastructure with us. The access to bank interfaces is not far. Card schemes need to consequently extend their business to remain relevant. This is where tokenisation comes in as it provides new level of convenience to payments and also makes secure transactions easier.

 

Does it fit naturally into existing payments? PayPal also has its own different way of securing online payments.

To reduce fraud we must readdress where we hold sensitive information to avoid incidents such as the Target breach. Consumers shop more online and need to pay but don’t want to leave payment information with merchants. In the physical world, you’d not want to leave your payment card at a store. Instead of leaving full credentials at merchants they can get paid conveniently without having to control all the payment data. Tokens can be limited in different ways, for instance by duration, amount and where used.

 

What are your views for the outlook of NFC and mobile payments?

Through the recent years there has been an on-going expectation, but now with Apple supporting NFC through the launch of Apple Pay and the iPhone 6 capabilities the outlook has improved. We are likely to see issuers and merchants driving many kinds of initiatives – not one size fits all. We see the confidence in the market and there will be a snowball effect on mobile payments and mobile commerce.

The estimates of mobile payments have so far exceeded the actuals, not unlike the time of the advent of the Internet. Yet looking back, even the most optimistic could not predict how big Google could be, how big e-commerce would be and how much we would end up today using internet and mobile. Similarly I don’t think we can even start to imagine how big mobile payments could be down the road!

 

What do you see to be the future of Nets & future of payments?

The growth of payments industry does not just hinge on the mechanics of payments. Moving money from one account to the other will be commoditised. But the general exchange of valuables in a connected world fuelled by mobile is the truly important thing.

In this, players like Nets have a significant role to play. Broader exchange of valuables includes coupons, loyalty points and more. What is required is a trusted broker of valuables: at a supermarket you could tap your phone and instead of paying £89 for grocery, you might pay 4,000 Avios points, some Starbucks points and store points– you may get the groceries without using money.

 

Thanks very much for this fascinating interview. Wish you the very best in your new role and for the exciting work planned at Nets.


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Kristian T. Sørensen (KS), Senior Manager Corporate Strategy at Nets Denmark. Prior to this, Kristian spent ten years working within online and mobile financial services at Danish Bank, Nykredit. Kristian holds a master’s degree in Communication and Psychology, and has worked with online solutions since the early days of the Internet in the mid-1990s and with online financial services since 2002. Kristian has participated in Mobey Forum since 2010 and has been an active contributor to the production of mobile wallet white papers. He was elected to the Board and Chairman of the Marketing Work group in 2012 and is a sought after Speaker and Thought Leader in the field of Payments.


Charmaine Oak

Author of The Digital Money Game, co-author Virtual Currencies – From Secrecy to Safety

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Insights on how to succeed in Mobile Money from Gemalto, a world leader in digital security

 

Today I have great pleasure in speaking with Naomi Lurie, Director of Marketing for Mobile Financial Services (MFS) at Gemalto. From this key position at the world’s leader in digital security, Naomi is very well placed to share with us about GMPP (Gemalto’s mobile payments platform) and the work Gemalto is doing around the world in the extremely fast moving payments arena, both in developed and developing countries. Naomi shares with us some of the key initiatives in which Gemalto has been involved, and explains the importance of perseverance in achieving mobile money adoption goals.

 

Naomi could you kindly set the context for us, with a bit background on Gemalto and your leadership position in mobile financial services?

Gemalto OfficeGemalto is a leader in digital security, and a technology enabler for mobile network operators, banks, governments, enterprises and retailers. We work behind the scenes to ensure that each time their customers, employees and citizens want to transact, connect or identify themselves, they can do it safely and easily. You may not realise it, but if you put your hand in your pocket and take out your wallet or mobile phone, chances are it has a Gemalto security component – in your SIM card, your bank card, your driver’s license or your government ID.

One of our important growth areas is mobile payment services, and I look after Marketing for these solutions. Specifically I’m responsible for our Mobile Money and Cloud Based Payments offers. In our Mobile Financial Services marketing team we also offer Trusted Services solutions, including TSM and a Trusted Services Hub business service, and we are NFC experts. It’s exciting work in exciting times, especially as we are a global player with 44 sites and customers in 190 countries.

And with the coming of tokenisation there is yet more work for you?

Yes, certainly. As the leading TSM provider, we’ve been provisioning credit cards onto the mobile device for the largest mobile payments initiatives in the world. Emerging standards for cloud-based payments and tokenization require secure provisioning services for cards, tokens and keys. So, our assets and expertise in provisioning, mobile security, and authentication all come into play.

We’ve recently announced our Trusted Services Hub, a turnkey business service that enables issuers, enterprises, transport operators and digital service providers to easily deploy their value-added and mobile payment services across smartphones and mobile networks around the world. So with one connection to the Hub they gain access to over 1.5 billion mobile users worldwide already covered by our solutions.

Please give us some background on the Gemalto Mobile Payment Platform (GMPP)

GMPP is our comprehensive, field-proven, secure, flexible platform for issuers, mobile operators, retailers and banks that wish to launch mobile payment services. It supports emerging market use cases including stored value accounts, agent networks, P2P transfers, bill payment, airtime top-up, merchant payments, government payments and more. GMPP also powers developed and semi-developed market use cases relating to payments, usually from smartphone devices, such as in-store and online payments, loyalty and couponing.

We work across many different channels: USSD, STK, mobile apps, web and more, and we offer strong security across all these. We authenticate customers and manage risks relating to repudiation, fraud and more. We integrate into mobile operator, issuer and retailer environments and manage diverse requirements based on the nature of the ecosystem, which ranges from simple to very complex.

How has GMPP been used around the world?

Our platform is deployed around the globe. In Europe we work with Telefonica Spain and Telecom Italia.

India Post

India PostThe Gemalto Mobile Payment Platform is running in India with India Post for domestic remittance, since November 2012. India Post’s domestic money transfer service was a traditional paper-based service that took around 5 days to arrive at the destination. India Post wanted to modernise the service, to compete with the new mobile money systems coming from new entrants such as mobile operators. Since India Post has close to 90% of their branches in rural areas, they decided to modernize their money transfer service using mobile. It’s an interesting over-the-counter service. The agents at the post office are equipped with a mobile device that runs an app that collects information about the sender and recipient, amount and pickup location. Immediately both sender and receiver get SMS notifications about the transfer and how to pick it up. And the transfer happens in minutes!

 

Transfer in Mexico

Transfer1In Mexico, the GMPP is at the heart of the Transfer Service, which is brought to market by Banamex (Citi’s Mexican subsidiary), Telcel (America Movil’s Mexican mobile phone subsidiary) and Banco Inbursa. Telcel provides the channels: SMS, USSD and CRM. The banks hold the accounts and create the use cases, as well as manage network integration with Point of Sale and ATM networks. In Transfer users can get a companion card as well, to access the balance in the prepaid stored value account for POS payments. GMPP hosts all transactions and the customer wallet. The service went live in April 2012.

GMPP is also installed with NetOne in Zimbabwe, for their OneWallet mobile money service. This is your classic service, with P2P, cash in, cash out, airtime top-up and bill payment.

Gemalto provides the SIM Toolkit (STK) and Secure Access Gateway for MTN Group in Africa, Vodafone Qatar and elsewhere.

GMPP obviously solves some key needs for the unbanked. Could you please tell us what makes your implementation uniquely compelling?

I think what’s unique is the way we can address a very broad spectrum of use cases in a highly secure manner.

If we rewind to 5 years ago we thought we knew the recipe for mobile money. Just provide the standard set of expected services, follow the formula and deploy. However services have gotten more diverse. There are specific needs and requirements when we deploy in semi-developed markets. And emerging markets also have diverse customers – some with smartphones and others with very basic phones. Take Mexico for instance, the aspiration is to bank the unbanked and offer a new kind of account to the masses, but they must also appeal to urban users. There is a need for a combination of scenarios. We therefore feel well placed as we can offer the limitless combinations, while maintaining security across all the channels. That’s the strength Gemalto has.

Also we build our platforms to scale. We see mobile money as mission-critical services and can affordably scale up and ramp up as the usage grows.

What do you see as some of the challenges faced in bringing services to market?

There is no magic. You can’t just deploy technology and expect the service to be a success. It has to have all the right elements – in go-to-market, organization, and budget. You really must do your homework and take care of buyer personas, marketing strategy and back office support. You need a lot of CXO attention and need to continuously attract investment and management attention.

I think it is really important to be able to correct yourself. Of the over two hundred mobile money deployments, only a few have reached scale. If you give up and just let the offer die down, that is a waste. As in case of any product launch, it’s important to be able to correct yourself.

Another challenge can be regulation, meaning what type of services the regulator allows and what kind of limiting factors will the regulator impose. Often you need a strong lobby on both aspects.

When you look at mobile driven and bank driven initiatives which of these have a better chance of succeeding?

It seems that mobile operators (MNOs) have been more successful, but this is quite dependant on the region. MNOs seem to have the lion’s share of deployments quantitatively, but we do observe a trend for more issuer-led services.

MNOs seem to have an advantage on the marketing side; they know how to market to the unbanked masses, while banks are more comfortable marketing to their traditional clients. To launch a service for the unbanked requires a real transformation for the banks. However, in semi-developed and developed markets where most of the population is banked, the banks are at an advantage.

What are the major changes you’ve seen in the last year?

One change in the emerging market space is the launch of more consortium-led initiatives, and also Central Bank led initiatives. There are some new models coming up along these lines, with an attempt to put the entire set of domestic transactions on a single platform. Within that setup, individual service providers can offer branded services and compete with each other. These types of initiatives aim to address the question of interoperability from day one.

We also observe a much higher interest in enabling payments – in-store and POS payments in addition to mobile P2P between buyer and seller.

What major goals do you look forward to in terms of 2015?

Our goal is to continue to be the trusted partner of our clients and to help them operate successful mobile payment services. We aim to help our clients bring their mobile business strategy to life, while providing all parties confidence in the robustness and security of the service. It promises to be quite an exciting year with the advent of emerging tokenization standards, the new Gemalto Trusted Services Hub, the launch of major new initiatives, and the evolution of existing services.

Naomi thanks for sharing the very interesting work you do around the world and I wish you and Gemalto the very best of success for the future!

 

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Naomi has a proven record of driving product and market excellence for products in the mobile, financial, retail and enterprise sectors.

Naomi joined Gemalto in 2010, where she drives marketing and strategy for the company’s mobile payment and mobile wallet solutions. She is an expert on the mobile money use cases emerging across the globe and is involved in some of the most ambitious and large-scale mCommerce services in both developed and developing markets.

Previously, Naomi was a product manager at Verint, which specializes in enterprise and security intelligence. Naomi was responsible for the global introduction of analytic software solutions for workforce-enterprise optimization, as well as the execution of product launch and rollout plans to sales, support and professional services.

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E-Commerce in Thailand – Building a unique Omni-Channel Retail Experience

 

Today I am delighted to be speaking to Parin Songpracha (PS), who has been an important change agent in the Thailand payments scene. For the last 7 years, as Head of E-Commerce at 7-Eleven, Parin led important transformational changes to enable e-commerce and an omni-channel retail experience. Parin remains an advisor at 7-Eleven for E-Commerce, as this month he undertakes a new challenge as Director of eCommerce at DHL. He paints a picture of how people pay in Thailand, how this is changing and the key drivers for this change.

 

Parin, thank you for your time today. I am excited to hear your story. As a pioneer in the e-commerce scene in Thailand, could you please give us some background about your role and your achievements?

 

My journey in e-Commerce started in 2008 when I founded the e-Commerce business for 7-Eleven, starting from scratch. At the time I looked at the unique needs that people faced and designed solutions that used the ubiquitous 7-Eleven stores.

Today I continue to hold key roles in promoting e-Commerce in Thailand at the Thailand e-Commerce Association (THECA) since 2008 and the Thai Webmaster Association (TWA) since 2010. At THECA I am in charge of cross-border collaboration between Thailand and E-Commerce Associations in other ASEAN countries. We hope to launch an ASEAN Association next year.

 

How do people pay in Thailand? How have you seen this changing, and what are the needs addressed?

 

shopat7

 

ShopAt7.com is the 7-Eleven e-Commerce portal. This barcode payment on mobile is currently being implemented, with an expected time to market of the next 2 months. This is part of a journey that we began in 2009, and it has helped to transform the way people pay in Thailand.

The main needs regarding online payment stem from the fact that there is a low card penetration in Thailand. So firstly, as there is just about 12% card penetration this makes it difficult for shoppers. Secondly customers face a problem with transport and infrastructure that makes it hard to collect goods from far off places. Shipping to home addresses is very costly for merchants as well.

At 7-Eleven we were able to introduce a major innovation to let people pay online. Having selected their items, they now receive an SMS that they can use in-store to make payments. This unique SMS-based payment service was introduced by us as far back as 2009. At the time I visited other countries to look at Best Practice. Other 7-Eleven stores, including those in Japan had not yet started supporting the features we designed into our Thailand stores.

At the time we had roughly 3,500 stores nationwide (today we have around 8000). We offered free in-store pick up delivery and this made us very successful in e-commerce. This year we’ve achieved break-even and we expect profits next year.

From an external point of view, since 2011 the daily deals business such as Groupon further changed payments. Rocket Internet’s Lazada group has invested heavily in transforming and expanding e-commerce in Thailand.

 

How did you make changes to allow people to pay in 7-Eleven stores?

 

Green Building

 

I looked at how people pay card statements by coming into store with paper bills. The problem is they may forget to bring the bill and then payment gets delayed. How could we improve bill payments in store? I had the idea of using the mobile phone. But the code was too long at 32 digits. We first had to reduce this to 16 digits. We then made changes to ensure that both the store manager and the customers became fully comfortable with the new method of payment.

The other main improvement was in pickup. Once people order and pay in-store, goods are available for collection within 1-2 days in the Bangkok area, 4-5 days in the more remote areas, and up to 9 days for very remote islands.

 

That is a very inspiring story of innovation Parin! So what are now some of the main opportunities in the market?

I think the challenge is in bringing in innovations in stages. At first people require some hand-holding. After a few years they want the ability to do it themselves. This is how we have built and designed services, and I continue to think of ways to improve on how we do e-commerce here.

 

With the recent announcement of Apple Pay, how has E-Money and contactless payments progressed in Thailand and what have been some of the challenges?

True Money did support contactless payments through a mobile phone trial but so far proximity mobile payments have not really taken off. However, the launch of Apple Pay has made people very interested in NFC again. Although Apple does not have a large share of the market, they have the higher income big-spenders.

The low card penetration remains a problem. While direct bank payments are a solution, refunds for that method of payment take time. Imagine when a person buys an item such as an iPhone from a store and for some reason faces an issue and must ask for a refund. This could take as long as 49 days. Meanwhile he does not have the amount available to go to another store and make the purchase.

 

What are some of the main changes you expect to introduce in your role at DHL over 2015?

When we started I mentioned the logistics problem in reaching goods to people. DHL is very well positioned to support the growing number of businesses that wish to go online. We can support them for multiple solutions and I am very excited to be part of this major transformation over the next years.

 

thailandimage

 

Thanks very much for this insightful interview Parin. I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your achievements and wish you the very best for your new role! I greatly look forward to trying out both the mobile payment and e-commerce services when I am next in beautiful Thailand!

 


parinParin Songpracha is currently Director eCommerce at DHL Thailand. Parin is an e-Commerce and Omni-channel expert from the largest retailer in Thailand. He plays a leading role in the development of E-Commerce in Thailand and in the larger ASEAN region.

Parin has a key role in promoting e-Commerce in Thailand at the Thailand e-Commerce Association (THECA) since 2008 and the Thai Webmaster Association (TWA) since 2010.

 

 


Have you got an interesting story to share about the difference you and your company are making to the way people pay around the world? If so do drop us a line at contact@shiftthought.com .

 

Charmaine Oak is Practice Lead, Digital Money  at Shift Thought

Author of The Digital Money Game, co-author Virtual Currencies – From Secrecy to Safety

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http://www.linkedin.com/in/charmaineoak

 

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How Apple play affects The Digital Money Game

Now that Apple Pay is here, how does it affect the projects in your pipeline? Which should you drop, where should you invest more and who should you look to partner next? We are at the cusp of the creation of a new ecosystem. But will Apple Pay fare better than Google Wallet did when it first launched in May 2011? There is a feeling of Déjà vu and Let’s Wait and See. For Apple as well, Apple Watch was No. 1 – payments was No. 2.

So is this going to ignite NFC payments? How will things change? The short answer is I don’t think anyone knows yet. We’ll what are the mobile operators thinking now – we all know Verizon was not a cheer leader for the Google Wallet. What is PayPal thinking? What if Walmart does not come around?

Why is this important?

applepay

The major factor for any new payment service is adoption. So far adoption of NFC has been a 10-year war between the banks and the mobile operators and has struggled to gain traction.

Then in 2011 we had the entry of the Google wallet, and each of the card schemes with their own wallets. Still consumers and merchants failed to adopt. While contactless cards have gradually crept into use, paying by phone continues to prove elusive, for a variety of reasons, with one of the main ones claimed to be lack of handsets, customer security concerns and business model.

Apple has 800 million customers as “card on file”. Additionally the API will be available to developers. Merchant support has already been announced: Integration with Uber, a food app from Panera, Major League Baseball's app to order tickets from your phone, and Open Table to pay your bill from your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus. Apple API to be offered in iOS 8 to allow app developers to integrate Apple Pay into their applications.

Apple has a following, so is not dependant on mobile operators to push their phones, however operator subsidies that could be as high as $500 help make them affordable. The rapid adoption of smartphones across the world has changed the balance of power. Certainly in the US, Apple is Top Dog as a smartphone manufacturer, with 42.1% OEM market share as of June 2014 according to comScore reports.

However while in the US and Europe Samsung and Apple dominate, the share of both providers has been dropping in emerging markets where we see a fragmentation emerging. In urban China, Xiaomi with its affordable RedMi model continues to go from strength to strength, securing a 27% share of smartphone sales in the second quarter of 2014, compared with 21.1% for Samsung. And payments by watch + iPhone cannot be a top priority for the masses in emerging markets.

Too little too late?

So far Apple was a late starter where contactless payments are concerned. Like a swan, the movement seemed to be more “under-water”, as news of patents obtained for motion based payments got out in January 2013. Apple obtained a US Patent for a digital wallet and virtual currency. It described a system of managing credits via mobile device. Mobile users would be able to receive credits or coupons stored in their account. Check out Patently Apple for the whole background.

Back in June 2013 Apple released its first mobile commerce platform, called the iCloud Keychain: consumers could an store a variety of information, such as passwords and financial details for use across several Apple devices (Mac, iPhone or iPad) to log into websites or make purchases online. The platform did not support NFC and existed as an application rather than a physical device.

Earlier in June 2012, the Apple bar-code-based Passbook mobile wallet was launched, as a basic mobile wallet without payment functions, using barcodes to store and represent multiple boarding passes, store cards, and movie tickets. It had location-enabled alerts, and real-time updates and it displayed passes based on a specific time or location. When consumers walk into a participating shop the loyalty card appears and can be scanned to pay or check balance. It was expected that this could evolve into a mobile payment service by linking the Passbook to customer credit cards and iTunes accounts.

Effect on the Digital Money Game

Contactless payments that Apple Pay now propose to offer comes as a reinforcement

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