Telecom Italia to offer m-payment service in 2010

A plan to support mobile payments (m-payments) has been unveiled by Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) in association with the Italian Movincom Consortium. The operator said that it would launch the scheme next year to enable its subscribers to make a range of purchases from the 650 services of the Movincom Consortium - soon to be increased to over 1,500 in seven different market sectors.

According to TIM, the service will use a SIM-based application that would display specific menus to guide customers through the payment process. Orders placed for goods or services would be triggered by a text message generated automatically by the application. The text message includes the purchaser's cellphone number but no sensitive data about the selected method of payment.

"We know that security and a user-friendly purchase experience are vital to the development of mobile commerce via mobile phones. This agreement with Telecom Italia is a major step in that direction," said Enrico Sponza, deputy chairman of the Movincom Consortium. "Banks will have access to an integrated set of operational processes and be able to fast track their entry into the mobile payment business."

While TIM is one of the first operators in Europe to launch m-payments in association with a merchant consortium, others, including Google, Nokia, eBay and Facebook are keen to enter the market. However, the sector remains fragmented due to a variety of technology options, and the ongoing reluctance of mobile operators and financial institutions to co-operate - or, in truth, to share customers and revenues.

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