Companies team up to jump-start m-commerce

A consortium of companies, including Sun, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle, has teamed up to create standards for the way mobile...

A consortium of companies, including Sun, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle, has teamed up to create standards for the way mobile payments are handled.

The consortium, called PayCircle, includes Lucent Technologies and Siemens as full members as well as a number of smaller companies as participants, and aims to remove some barriers to widespread mobile commerce.

The payment, transaction and authorisation component of mobile commerce is currently being held back because of the many different systems that do not necessarily work together, according to Malcolm Lewis, director of mobile offer management at Lucent.

PayCircle will attempt to correct that by creating standard interfaces by which payment systems, wireless networks and vendors will be able to communicate.

The group will also concern itself with developing a consistent user interface for transactions, said Craig Miller, a product line manager at the wireless business group at Sun.

A standard interface is necessary because "ease of use and commonality of experience is key to driving adoption of new technology," Miller said. Having standards and a standards body will help jump-start the mobile commerce market, he said.

The group will release a series of application program interfaces (APIs) for vendors to incorporate into their products to achieve this integration. PayCircle is "trying to implement those APIs in as many environments as we can," including Java and XML, Lewis said.

Each full member of the group has its own specific m-commerce focus. Lucent brings experience in billing systems to the group, Oracle offers experience with databases that run many transaction systems, Siemens sells payment gateways, and both HP and Sun sell the platforms and software that vendors use.

Though there are no major mobile phone handset makers yet in the consortium, Sun's Miller said that the group is encouraging new companies to join and that new members would be announced soon.

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