Mobile operators demoted to dumb pipes by new UK payment platform

The UK Payment Council is developing a new payments platform that all British banks can use to provide a portfolio of mobile payment services. However, the Council, which sets the strategy for UK banking payments, does not envisage mobile operators being involved with this initiative other than carrying the data traffic.

According to Richard Martin, head of innovation at the Payments Council, a tender is being prepared for the development of a standardised backend architecture to handle mobile payments.

"How the banks use it is up to them," Martin told NFC World. "Some may go for NFC, and some may use browser-based systems or SMS methods, it's up to them."

Of particular note, Martin added: "I wouldn't say the new platform will necessarily cut mobile operators out of payment services. Payment services as far as banks are concerned are a very low margin business, and are not something that telcos have traditionally been set up to work around."

"We're very much aware that mobile operators are interested in these services," he added, "but if banks can deliver a sheer volume of mobile transactions on this new platform, it will be of interest to operators, on data usage and also as a basis to support other commercial opportunities on top of what they already do."

The drive behind this initiative would appear to be a desire by UK banks to create new services, and make mobile payments and banking easier and more convenient. This is also being driven by the need by banks to find an alternative to cheques which they want to phase out.

It is unclear how this initiative might interact with the NFC-based joint venture recently formed by the UK's three largest operators to create a standard mobile payment and advertising platform.

For more:
- see this NFC World article

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