Tipping point for phone banking‾

Mastercard is unveiling a new service for banks today, enabling them to install payment cards in mobile phones much more easily than previously. A Reuters report  says there are hopes that this move could finally break the deadlock in mobile phone payments.

Until now, the banks and network operators have each been suspicious of the other, afraid that they will lose ground to the other, thereby missing out of what could and should be a multi-billion euro market within the next five years.

It's analogous to the music companies and the digital revolution - for years record companies knew they needed to do something, they were just afraid of the consequences of going digital.

James Anderson, a Vice President at MasterCard's mobile business, was quoted in the Reuters article saying, 'We are talking to serious banks "&brkbar; and not about trials, but about commercial launches".

Anderson also reportedly said that during the next two years he expects to see substantial activity from retail banks, whose plans to develop mobile payment services have been little affected by the financial crisis.

However, assuming the new product flies, it would still take until 2010, the very least, before a critical mass of phones are available that are equipped with the technology. There are still fundamental issues to be ironed out between the financial sector and their telecoms partners, such as revenue share and where their respective roles begin and end.