Mobey Forum m-wallet whitepaper seeks to define competitive space

20 February 2012

The bank-led Mobey Forum industry association, which also includes Mobile Network Operators and others, has released its second whitepaper on mobile wallets in an attempt to encourage widespread adoption. It outlines how to establish connections, customer acquisition procedures and who owns the data, among much else.

Entitled Control Points in Mobile Wallets, the Mobey Forum whitepaper seeks to analyse how the rollout of the mobile wallet and the competitive space around it will be dictated by the various stakeholders involved in the development and deployment of the technology. The publication covers the role of banks, technology vendors, payment processors, MNOs, card schemes like Visa or MasterCard, and various other players like merchants.

There is currently a lot of hype around the mobile wallet but very little analysis and guidance to support worldwide adoption, believes Sirpa Nordlund, executive director of Mobey Forum. “We advocate an open systems approach to m-wallet development,” she explains. “By drawing all stakeholders together and collaborating on the development of an infrastructure that is fully interoperable and in line with known industry standards, we can create a commercially viable environment that enables any mobile wallet to host content from any provider which, ultimately, will accelerate mass market adoption.”

Leading banks, payment schemes and service companies all contributed to the whitepaper, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, DNB Bank, the European Payments Council, Luup, Nokia, RBS, SWIFT, Tieto and Rabobank.

The ‘Control Points in Mobile Wallets’ whitepaper identifies seven key areas, or ‘control points’, within the m-wallet ecosystem that will influence the delivery of the technology to end users, while highlighting the controlling roles that each different stakeholder will play in the commercial operation of the infrastructure surrounding mobile wallets.

The seven ‘control points are:

• Connection from and to the mobile wallet: Controls which types of mobile device, operating system and mobile wallet implementation can be connected to relevant services and controls the delivery of content according to the designated user level.

• Distribution channels for the mobile wallet: Controls the distribution of the mobile wallet and application to the user.

• Customer acquisition and enrolment: Controls how users are signed up to mobile wallet services. Acquisition and enrolment is key because it controls the main access route to existing customer segments and marketing channels.

• Bearer / connection technology: Controls the various bearers and connection technologies needed for interaction between the mobile wallet on the device and relevant services.

• Channels to get value into and out of the mobile wallet: Controls how users put funds into their mobile wallets and how they can transfer value to a merchant or other individual.

• Data flow: The data flow to and from the mobile wallet can be controlled by a variety of stakeholders and intermediaries.

• Data ownership: The variety of data around mobile wallets is wide, encompassing payments, commerce, products, location, preferences, loyalty and more. The use of such data should always be under the consent of the end user.

The control points help to manage how a mobile wallet is set up and used. The first three govern mobile wallet initiation. They help to ensure the user has the right device and determine how the mobile wallet application is installed on the mobile wallet and how the user activates the installed mobile wallet.

The other later control points enable the mobile wallet to be used. They manage how the mobile wallet connects to the network, how the data flow is organized, which stakeholder has access to this data and how the value gets into and out of the mobile wallet.

In conclusion, Amir Tabakovic, head of market development at PostFinance and chair of the Mobey Forum Mobile Wallet Task Force, points out that there is considerable competition for market position among key players in the field, all of them striving to win the interest of consumers. “If the mobile wallet is to develop to its full potential, however, it is important to understand how the landscape can be influenced,” he says. “In particular, [information is needed on] how stakeholders can control one or more parts of the ecosystem.”

By Neil Ainger

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