I spoke with the BBC’s Silicon Valley journalist, Maggie Shiels, last week. She was working on a piece about the ‘cashless society‘ — and asked for my perspective on mobile transactions.
I asked if she was ready for some rather direct commentary. She was up for listening.
I vented forth thus:
‘Take the lead’
“Come on people make this happen,” is the blunt message from Ewan MacLeod the founder of the blog Mobile Industry Review.
“What we have here is lots and lots of people staring at each other waiting for someone else to take the lead and do something,” said Mr MacLeod of the hurdles preventing the cell phone becoming a virtual wallet.
“We are already downloading and paying for digital content with our phones.
“We have a financial relationship with our phone operators and carriers. We access our banks via the mobile internet. This is all do-able and just makes good sense. So why the delay?” he asked.
I’m pretty pleased with this because in the previous paragraph, Maggie is quoting Tim Attinger, Head of Product Innovation at Visa. And guess what he says?
Have a read:
“The biggest hurdle is getting the business relationships in place with companies like ours, the mobile carriers, the operators and the financial services. We are working hard to find the right business construct.”
I think my summary of ‘lots and lots of people staring at each other waiting for someone else to take the lead and do something [in mobile transactions’ is thus, rather accurate.
The REAL question is the last point Mr Attinger made: The ‘right business construct‘. Or, in more direct language, who gets what split of the revenue.
And it could be potentially devastating news for Visa if you get Vodafone and HSBC jumping into bed together, for example.
Do you know something else interesting?
Wikipedia quotes HSBC as having 120 million customers worldwide. Sounds like a lot, yeah?
Guess how many Vodafone has?
288.9 million (according to The Times last week).
“I bank with Vodafone.”
Got a nice ring to it, that, hasn’t it? 😉
The Vodafone Current Account. Heh. No room for Visa. Or Mastercard. Or anyone else.
Maggie’s produced a good overview — you can read the full piece on the BBC site here.