Users face m-payment dilemma

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Users face m-payment dilemma

Antony Adshead
Mobile phone operator Hutchison 3G will offer mobile payment services when it launches in the UK by the end of this year.

To use the service, retailers will have to make changes to their business processes and Web sites, and analysts have warned of the lack of industry standards for mobile payment systems.

Adam Daum, chief analyst at Gartner, said, "There is currently no industry standard for mobile payments in the UK. It is difficult to know which mobile payment system will win out. The good news is that on some [mobile payment] systems, implementation is easy. A small amount of software code is written and downloaded to point-of-sale systems."

Hutchison 3G's mobile payment system will be powered by software from Network365 across the phone operator's seven licences.

Although the phone operator would not confirm the details of its proposed service, there are two possible models for payment using Network365's software.

One is essentially a scaled-down version of payment systems used on desktop PCs. Web sites adapted for viewing on a mobile phone allow the consumer to make payments by credit card. The other is a pre-pay method where the consumer charges their mobile phone account with funds and the mobile operator effectively becomes a payment service provider.

Retailers wanting to take advantage of Hutchison 3G's service will have to make changes to their business processes and possibly their Web sites depending on the payment model they chose to support.

To allow customers to pay with a credit card, merchants should have themselves and their products included on a third-party shopping portal or have their Web site adapted to formats accessible by mobile phone.

In the pre-pay model consumers would make payments by activating the transmission of a payment code to the merchant. This would effectively take the place of credit card details in existing systems.

The retailer's business processes and applications must be adapted to accept the new payment method. Web sites would have a mobile-payment button and the seller must be able to receive the payment code which authenticates the funds transfer to the retailer from the mobile operator.

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