An interesting article from the TM Forum suggests that operators in Europe and the US could miss out on a potentially massive mobile payments opportunity.
The Forum notes that both regions appear to be pitching telcos against banks rather than fostering cross-industry collaborations that deliver real value. As a result, many parties are seeking to develop services that rely on neither institution in a bid to get the market moving.
There are, of course, some high-profile operator led services in the pipeline. O2, Vodafone and EverythingEverywhere are attempting to develop their own mobile payments platform that they claim will be available to all players once up and running. It’s not an argument accepted by rival Three UK, which last week branded the collaboration anti-competitive during talks with the European Commission.
US operators AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile and Verizon are also collaborating to develop ISIS – a mobile commerce network that will be marketed to the trio’s combined 200 million subscribers on a nationwide basis.
The TM Forum is unconvinced by these operator-led approaches, however, noting that similar m-payment development in leading Asia Pacific countries typically involve groups from multiple industries who are working out what will actually benefit end-users, rather than what is technically feasible. One of the key benefits, it argues, is that infrastructure investment is more evenly spread – in other words, not left solely to the operators -, but the main boon is that the services actually work.
Back in Europe and the US, the prospect of bypassing operators and banks opens the door for new players, the Forum argues. Google and Apple, in particular, are well placed to capitalize on the status quo due to their established billing systems.
However, the Forum doesn’t believe operators are out of the game just yet, rather that they must act quickly to establish their own services with several partners.