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The Resource for the Global Finance Profession

Mobile Moves: Major Telcos Targeting M-Payments

  • By Andrew Deichler
  • Published: 2012-07-09

With mobile developments reshaping the payments landscape, AFP brings together the top mobile payments trend information to help corporates track this evolving industry. This feature appears monthly in AFP’s Payments newsletter.

Major Telcos Targeting Mobile Payments, Forming Partnerships

According to a new report from Finaccord, the top telecommunications companies are jumping on mobile payments bandwagon—and some are even teaming up.
The report, Global Mobile Operators: Strategies in Payments and Banking, revealed that 51 of the 65 leading telcos have one or more strategic initiatives in mobile payments. Additionally, a further eight revealed plans to launch mobile payments group ventures in the near future.

Finaccord researched over 255 mobile operator brands across 70 countries. Smaller telcos have been slower to adopt mobile payments; only 13.7 percent of 255 brands researched have a scheme in place. However, Finaccord noted that the percentage is significantly higher in North America (30.8 percent).

The report also revealed that endowing mobile payments services with international functionality is a key challenge for telcos and their partners. More than 90 percent of the mobile payment services researched are domestic-only.

China UnionPay and MasterCard are the leading payment networks used by mobile brands for contactless payments (32.4 percent and 18.9 percent, respectively). Visa is next with 15.4 percent, followed by Discover and American Express with 10 percent each.


Telefonica Partners with Big Names for Mobile Payments  

No one is making a bigger push for mobile payments in July than Telefonica.

Telefonica Digital has entered into a strategic partnership with Visa Europe to increase mobile commerce across Europe. Both companies plan to invest in the development of mobile wallet services, NFC technology, acquirer services for mobile POS, and merchant offers.

Mobile commerce is a major focus for Telefonica’s new Digital unit, which has launched a mobile wallet service in the UK and is looking to do the same across its other operating businesses. The agreement establishes Visa Europe as Telefonica’s preferred partner for the issuance of branded payments cards and the development of related mobile payments services.

Telefonica also announced that it has secured global framework agreements with Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Research in Motion (RIM) to offer its Direct to Bill payments service. The service allows customers to make mobile purchases and have the payment charged directly to their phone bill or prepaid credit account, avoiding the need for a credit card.

Direct to Bill will be implemented differently among Telefonica’s new partners. Facebook is integrating operator billing into its payments platform. Google and RIM are adding it as a payment option in their app stores (Google Pay Store and BlackBerry App World). Microsoft is making Direct to Bill the default payment option for Telefonia subscribers making purchases in Windows Phone Marketplace.

Telefonica said efforts are particularly aimed at Latin America, where credit card usage is low and 60 percent of the population is unbanked.
The Direct to Bill service has already begun to roll out in Europe. In Germany, as many as 400,000 customers per month are now making payments using it. Telefonica intends to launch Direct to Bill in 14 different markets by the end of 2012.


Google Wallet Presents New Card Loading Options

Google has unveiled its new Save-to-Wallet APIs in an effort to enhance the ability to load payment cards onto the Google Wallet. With Citi still the only bank to get on board with the Google Wallet and competitors like Isis and possibly Sprint launching mobile devices this summer, Google is aiming to make card loading options easier for banks.  

Google is giving banks two options for integrating credit and signature debit cards into the Google Wallet. Banks can choose the “no integration” option, which allows them to provide their own card art, and co-market the wallet. They can also opt for “light integration,” in which they push cards directly from their websites into the wallet, with user consent.

The Save-to-Wallet API also could provide value to merchants, Google said. It allows users to save offers from the web onto a mobile device for use in stores, and reminds them about when the offers expire.

Copyright © 2014 Association for Financial Professionals, Inc.
All rights reserved.

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