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Mobile Payments and LSD

I think that I must live in a parallel universe to the one that the gurus of Mobile Payments inhabit.

I stand outside the most popular sushi restaurant at lunchtime in the San Francisco Financial District - the home of the venture capitalists that help to keep Silicone Valley buzzing.  No phone signal.

I sit on the train travelling through the stockbroker belt of Surrey, the home-base of the movers-and-shakers who finance the growth of UK FinTech.  No phone signal.

The Financial Services sector is an industry based on trust.  If you can't trust the technology that you are using to start or to complete a financial transaction then there is an essential building block missing from the infrastructure of mobile payments systems of the future.

Mobile communications services that we cannot trust to be available in order to make and complete a financial transaction will continue to be a major hindrance to the take-up of mobile payment services.  As services are this untrustworthy in locations where you would least expect them to be, imagine how poor they are everywhere else.  Without trustworthy infrastructure, payments services providers will need to continue to run costly and failure-prone two tier solutions for their clients - one in the "new money" of mobile payments and one in the "old money" of static payments, cheques and paying-in slips.

Just like the UK high-street bank that was mentioned on BBC Radio 2 late last year, that had discovered that it was providing modern mobile payment services but that some off its core applications were still running in LSD - pounds, shillings and pence.

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Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 22 January, 2016, 17:44Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Great post. In that parallel universe, you'll never walk alone. (With due apologies to Liverpool since I'm a ManU fan!)

Having spent my entire career in the IT industry, I'm quite aware of the strengths and weaknesses of technology. However, with all the hype around tech, I regularly come across many people from other industries who have this urge to use tech in order to appear cool. I suspect a vast majority of mobile wallet users belong to this category that I've termed "nouveau tech".

I recently had a meeting with a member of "nouveau tech". All he gave me by way of directions to his office in a fairly remote part of the city was his Google Map Pin. Thankfully, before leaving my office, I plugged it into the desktop version of Google Maps and noted down the nearest landmark - it was a certain garden. I reached the area of my customer's office without needing Google Map. Once I reached there, I switched on Google Map and entered the pin.

No signal.

It was back to good old fashioned navigation aka stop my car every 100 meters and ask passersby where the said garden was. 45 minutes later, I reached a place and found the company's name written on a board attached to a wall. In other words, I'd reached my destination. Just then, I got signal, and Google Map very helpfully told me that I'd reached my destination.

As though that wasn't enough, the SMS I'd sent to let my customer know that I was running late reached him an hour after our meeting started!

Like the UK high-street bank, I too ran modern Google Map via traditional ASAD (ASk Around for Directions)!