Mark Bridge writes:
Mobile financial services were making the headlines yet again last week. Not once. Not twice. No, we noticed at least three separate (and all pretty big) stories to talk about.
First came Nokia’s planned withdrawal from its mobile money service, which will leave around a million people in India looking for a new mobile wallet. Then there was mobile payment business BOKU announcing $35 million in new funding, including a sizeable investment from Telefónica. And finally along came PayPal Here and its plans to reclaim the iPhone-as-Point-of-Sale-terminal market from US rival Square. PayPal’s service is launching in the United States, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong... and it’s using a card reader that’s triangular to avoid any possible confusion with its rival. Expect a Square vs PayPal vs iZettle debate between me and James in Wednesday’s podcast.
Talking of podcasts, it’s been a busy week for those as well. Two of the discussions we recorded during Mobile World Congress are now online; you’ll find a recording of the ‘Heroes of Emerging Markets’ panel on our website - and it’ll soon be joined by the MEF Privacy in Mobile Apps roundtable (which you can currently hear at the MEF blog).
In network news, Ofcom says it’s happy with Everything Everywhere’s proposal to use existing 1800MHz GSM spectrum for 4G services in the UK. There’ll now be a four week consultation to see if all the other networks are happy with this (no, they’re not) and - more importantly - to see if they’ll produce a solid argument against it.
Virgin Media announced a partnership with London Underground that’ll introduce WiFi internet access to over 80 Tube stations by the summer. Service will be free during the launch period, so load up your preferred mobile VoIP service and prepare to frustrate your fellow passengers. Meanwhile, a company that would have appreciated an alternative network is MVNO giffgaff; it had an unhappy end to the week when water damage to computer systems took its mobile service offline for several hours.
Last week’s notable product announcements came from medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific, now working with Vodafone to offer real-time heart monitoring devices, and Sony Mobile Communications. Its new Android-powered Xperia sola smartphone offers ‘floating touch’ navigation, enabling you to browse the web without touching the screen. Gimmick or practical feature? That’s probably for consumers to device. Much like mobile payments, it could be argued.
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