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Cashless future: VocaLink demos mobile payment gateway

Cliff Saran

Payment processing company VocaLink will be showing the future of cash next week at the Sibos financial conference in Toronto.

For the past 18 months the company has been developing the VocaLink muti-channel gateway, its vision of how a cashless society will work.

As Computer Weekly has previously reported, payment platforms are facing new competition from Apple and Google.

Adam Kennedy, product director, global transaction services at VocaLink, said mobile device technology has moved quickly, but "banks have not yet moved into the transaction space on mobile devices".

The gateway will let people make payments to a mobile phone number. The gateway sits in the banking community to enable users to make a payment to another mobile phone number using an instant bank transfer. Kennedy said using a proxy, such as a mobile phone number, reduces the need for users to share their bank account details, providing added security.

In a study of 10,000 people around the world, VocaLink found that 42% of people with a bank account believed a mobile banking service would be useful and 30% of consumers said they would pay for transactions. Further, 75% of SMEs would find it appealing, because they would not need to carry a chequebook around.

The ability to "be paid straight away" (70%) and "be paid on time" (61%) are seen as very valuable. In the UK, sole traders such as electricians, financial consultants and plumbers were most impressed with the prospect of immediate mobile payments. Small businesses would be willing to incur the cost of the payment themselves rather than passing it on to customers, according to VocaLink.

Kennedy believed UK consumers and businesses may start seeing the service by this time next year, and the roll out will be "viral".

While retailers are starting to accept alternative payment schemes, such as near-field communications (NFC) cards such as Oyster, Kennedy said the VocaLink multi-channel is potentially a cash alternative, since it makes an instant payment from the customer to the payee's account.

"Charities are an interesting use case as people would be able to make mobile payments to charity while watching the TV," he added.

Some 96% of charities are keen to pilot mobile payment donation technology, according to VocaLink's research, Using Mobile Payments to Drive Charitable Donations. Charity respondents to the study stated that mobile payments could alleviate their biggest challenges, which include rising administration costs and an over-reliance on older people to donate.


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