One of the major reasons that it is now, eternally, ‘the year of the mobile’, is because mobile payments are such big news. And mobile payments are such big news because practically everything can be (and often is) classified as a mobile payment. As a result, the hype, revenues and wealth being generated by these mobile payment-using services is enormous! Apparently companies like Tesco, John Lewis and Ebay are all making incredible revenues from mobile payments! This, of course, is despite the fact that the mobile is largely irrelevant from the point of view of payment, given the cost of any purchase is invariably charged to a credit or debit card.
If we are being so generous with our definitions, BT were missing out on some much-needed good news PR for years. They too should have taken the plaudits any time someone made a credit or debit card payment over the phone. Bob Hoskins could have told us about the phenomenon of BT Landline Payments!
Such a lack of definition masks important detail – including that the specifics of the call to action, the payment mechanism and the associated transaction costs are vitally important to the success of any service that combines ‘mobile’ and ‘payments’. In the premium rate industry, where mobile payment means charging micropayments to the mobile account, the ‘year of the mobile’ was, in fact, around 2007. Revenue has since flatlined, innovation is conspicuous by its general absence and companies have moved away and focussed their investment in other sectors. Whilst there remains a large premium rate industry, with individual success stories and many reasons for optimism, there are problems behind the headlines and hyperbole. Amongst other themes within these updates, I’ll be considering the irony of why this most convenient means of making a payment via the mobile is currently achieving the least growth and innovation, the true state of the premium rate market and what opportunities exist beyond the headlines.