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My e-Journey - over 40 years. Part 5. Mobile rungs in the ladder and Mobey Forum

The first rung in the mobile services ladder was the word syntheziser for pushbutton telephone payments created in -82. Once mobile phones - the next rung - started to appear you could use them to make wireless payments. An advertisement has a man sitting on the ice - fishing with a bulky Nokia drag-around mobile phone next to him. 

The next rung was the SMS-based balance and transaction reporting introduced in the early 90s. Its rocket-like takeoff opened our eyes for how important a dimension always-on and always-there device was going to be.

The much heralded Internet in your pocket started with WAP phones. Payments was rapidly introduced and we did include even equity trading in WAP - but did not reach considerable overall usage volumes - much due to high communications costs,  that the local press was making much fuss about - as if payments would cause communication cost worth mentioning. GPRS made it cheaper and faster - but customers were so used and delighted with PC-banking (gradually more at home as modems became commonplace). And of course the mobile phones in the 90s had small monocrome screens. 

In the late 90s there was much hype in the press about teleoperators entering payment services - either using the telephone bills or by adding payment card services to the SIMcards. Shrinking the role of banks seems to be an eternally returning wishful thinking in some quarters.

To get a sound model for mobile banking, mobile remote and proximity payments and id-services Nordea, Nokia, Visa, Motorola, Ericsson and a dozen leading global banks established the in year 2000. I acted as chairman for the four first year and I am as honorary member very pleased to see how there 22 years later are over 50 members, high activity levels and the newest focus is on ID/Factwallets.

 The first Mobey Forum goal in 2000 was to improve customers mobility by creating an open model where you could choose any bank, any handset and any teleoperator and change one or two of them without having to start all over. This instead of walled gardens that limit choices, competition and adoption. Without open competetion not much will happen anywhere. The way to get there was to have a bank-issued SIM format smart card in the phone - as easy to switch to the next one as a SIMcard - and available from all banks. This advanced all the way to good prototype phones ready for mass production - but challenges in the handset market profitablity left Nokia alone on the scene and this noble cause lost steam. Described here:

Teleoperators have since come to the conclusion that the regulated payment market with so much risks and costly know-your-customer procedures is not for them. Important steps on the device-road have been the smartphone's total breakthrough, billionclass fraudeliminating bank-id integrated to remote card payments (first in the Nordics), arrived e-invoices announced by SMS and paid on due date by pressing A,  Apple and Android Pay especially for the daily proximity payments with face recognition (no PIN needed..) and the same user experience in remote identification to public sector and private services needing strong ID. To mention a few..  This will make a leap with the coming ID/factwallets where you can download among other credentials also your eIDAS2 stateID and use it also for proximity age checking etc. Will revert to this later. 

Lessons learned: 

(i) start early and keep going even if the first version does not take off. If you hate it too much, there may not even be a second version until much later

(ii) simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

(iii) open standards, 4-corner competition driving models against walled gardens should be a starting point



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Bo Harald

Bo Harald

Chairman/Founding member, board member

Transmeri, Demos, Real Time Economy Program,MyData

Member since

04 Nov 2008


Helsinki Region

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.

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