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Friday, October 21, 2011

An introduction to mobile financial services with Gemalto

Mark Bridge writes:

Mobile banking. eBanking. Mobile money. m-payments. They’re all terms that are often thrown around interchangeably (and incorrectly) when talking about mobile financial services.

To help understand more about the difference facets of mobile commerce - from security concerns through to current implementation and future innovations - I headed for Gemalto’s recent Innovation Day at the Museum of London. I started by talking to Howard Berg, senior vice president at Gemalto, and admitted to him that I still thought of Gemalto as being a SIM card and smartcard manufacturer rather than the digital security company it’s become.

“We would never deny that we make SIM cards, we would never deny that we make credit cards, but that’s only part of our offering. And that has actually forced us into looking at what would be next”, Howard told me.

“We are very much changing fast from what I would call a product-based organisation to a service-based organisation. The new generation see the internet and mobile phones as channels - and what they’re looking for is the usage in those channels. The challenge therefore for Gemalto is to provide services that meet that need, things such as financial services on mobiles, payment via mobiles, authentication services etc.  In simple terms, our aim is to take the physical world and make the virtual world as safe and secure as that is.”

Naomi Lurie, Product Marketing manager for the Mobile Financial Services business unit at Gemalto, then explained what mobile financial services really were.

“Mobile financial services is the place where banking and telecom converge. It means you can use your mobile device to have access to financial-type transactions.”

Broadly speaking, Naomi explained, mobile financial services can be grouped into four categories:

 1. Mobile banking: being in contact with a bank and performing transactions on a mobile phone
 2. Mobile payment: enabling customers to use a mobile phone as an alternative to cash, cards or cheques - including online and person-to-person transactions
 3. Mobile NFC: almost a sub-set of mobile payments; taking credit cards and ‘issuing’ the information securely to a mobile phone
 4. Mobile money: extending financial services to consumers who don’t have a conventional bank account

“Mobile banking is not online banking from the mobile device”, insisted Naomi, “because having the mobile device with you - every day, all day, whenever you need it - raises the level of interaction between the customer and the bank to something that online banking can’t do. The mobile device is with you in context.”

Being in context means, for example, that mobile banking is ideally placed to offer you a bank loan when you’re buying a high-value item in a retail shop.

“The mobile device - for the bank - presents a huge opportunity for them to be with their customers, on the go, on the spot, anywhere they are and whatever they need.”

We went on to talk about NFC technology, NFC alternatives, SMS payments, security practices and much more. It’s a fascinating introduction to mobile financial services; you can listen to the entire conversation on our website audio player or by downloading the MP3 file.

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