Archive for May, 2007

The future of the Internet is Mobile

Ideas on the future of the Mobile Internet have so far varied from enthusiastic to pessimistic. But as technologies improve and valuable market opportunities appear, the first group is growing rapidly.

‘Mobile phones fuel online growth’
Vinton Cerf, one of the pioneers of the Internet and now vice president at Google, is placing his bets on mobile phones to fuel online growth in the coming years.
He compared the relatively low global Internet penetration to the exponentially growing amount of mobile subscriptions. While ‘only’ a sixth of the world population – about 1.1 billion – has Internet access, there are already 2.5 billion mobile phone users. Especially in fast growing markets such as China and India, millions of mobile subscriptions are added every month.
Cerf believes the mobile phone will make the Internet more accessible to more people. Google wants to stimulate mobile internet use and hopes to gain a larger market share this way.

Another big fish with faith in the mobile internet is Hamid Akhavan. At 3GSM in Barcelona, the CEO of T-Mobile International predicted that the mobile internet will have a bigger revolutionary effect on people than that of the Internet itself.

US: Mobile Internet on the rise
Research from the American-based Opinion Research Corporation has pointed out that nearly 30% of Americans use their mobile phone to access the Mobile Internet. On that visit, 3 out of 4 use mobile search. For this mobile search they use mostly the same search engines as they use on the Internet. The functions mostly used on the Mobile Internet are maps/route descriptions, weather forecast and local information.

Although 30% might be an exaggeration, it does indicate that Mobile Internet is on the rise.

The Netherlands: standardization and higher accessibility
The Dutch mobile operators are working together to stimulate the use of the Mobile Internet in The Netherlands. While they used a very protective policy for their mobile portals before, they are now opening it up.
Until recently, these mobile portals created their own environment and avoided linking to mobile sites outside that environment. The operators have now realised that users want to surf around and when given this possibility, will use the Mobile Internet more and will therefore also spend more.
To stimulate surfing on the Mobile Internet, all operators have decided to offer this at a fix rate. A mobile user pays around 10 euro per month to have unlimited access to the Mobile Internet.

Another change is the standardization of the URL for mobile sites, which will have the standard format mobiel.brandname.nl. This easily solves an important issue for the Mobile Internet (‘How to find the URL of a mobile site?’) and is quite an example for other countries.

Mobile Internet

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Will we soon pay everything with our mobile phone?

The past few months it has been raining press announcements regarding the launch of new payment services via the mobile phone. Tunz.com, Banxafe, MPAY, … they are just a few of the new possibilities that are offered in Belgium. Is the consumer still following with all these technological attacks?

A lot of renewal regarding mobile payment systems
The market of mobile payment is very promising and attracts new providers. The founders of Keytrade Bank and Skynet recently launched their new service Tunz.com. Through this platform users can execute payments among each other via simple sms messages. The system uses a central virtual wallet on which a maximum of 150 EUR can be placed. The system is strongly inspired by the success of Paypal, the peer-to-peer payment system on the Internet. The latter has recently introduced a mobile version and wants to get his share of this market.
A few days after the press release of Tunz.com, Banksys presented his new Banxafe system. This system connects the mobile phone number to a bank account. With the exchange of 3 SMS messages and a pincode, a payment can be made with this as well. m-Banxafe is positioned for payments between 6 and 200 EUR on places where a payment by card is difficult: for example home delivery, plumbers, electricians, taxi drivers, … Arrivero and Collivery of Colruyt have already activated this system.
The mobile operators don’t sit still wit hall these evolutions. Last year, Proximus has introduced the new MPAY system for payments on the mobile internet. This system allows payments up to 10 EUR.

The consumer wants reliability and user friendliness
Is the consumer actually waiting for all these technological attacks? Almost everyone has a mobile phone these days and many people experience it as a valuable and indispensable instrument. When they forget their mobile phone at home, about half of the people will return home to pick it up. For small payments the mobile phone can thus be the perfectly positioned instrument.
For small payments, the consumer expects reliability, security and user friendliness. Mostly for the last aspect, many technological inventions have failed over the past few years. The little successful acceptation of Proton is a good example for this. For new providers such as Tunz.com, the reputation of the reliability additionally will have to be build up.

The merchant chooses low cost
To successfully introduce a payment system on a large scale, it is important to connect sufficient merchants on the platform. In the first place an important evangelisation will have to happen to convince merchants of the advantages of the new technologies. These payment systems will also have to prove their cost efficiency. Merchants are very sensitive for the costs, especially regarding the processing of small payments. A cost of only a few percentages is usually already an obstacle for the use of a new technology. It is mostly this barrier that is faced by existing systems of mobile micro payments such as Premium SMS.

Mobile payment solutions