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Tim Tyler

Tim Tyler - Mobile Static

Tim Tyler - Misys

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Innovation in Financial Services

Innovation in Financial Services

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

Mobile P2P: I'm more than just a number!

02 February 2011  |  5062 views  |  2


It is true, we are more than just a number. Unfortunately people don't tend to have unique names - for instance I share my name with the developer of a computer game from the 1980's called "Repton". In the physical world, this doesn't really matter - if I need to give you some money I hand it to you in person: I have identified you, we've agreed on how we're exchanging money (cash), and I pass it over. A secure, trusted mechanism for exchanging funds.

Moving in to the virtual world, things start becoming more problematic. Two key questions that need to be asked for every transaction:

  1. Identification - How am I going to identify the beneficiary (or specifically, their destination address)?
  2. Method - How am I going to transfer funds to the beneficiary? 

Trust is also important - do the beneficiary and I trust each other to share financial identification, and do we both trust the method to be used? Also, does the method support the identification that we wish to use?

Historically, our choices around these have been limited: identification has been via bank ID and account number, and method has been through one of a limited choice of payment networks.

I've previously written about how banks should continue to take advantage of these existing networks, rather than trying to build new, mutually exclusive ones; so let us consider the issue of identification.

As we slowly move towards an almost cashless society, the demand for "mobile" Person-to-Person payments is increasing. This means the number of exchanges where the payer and the payee do not trust each other enough to exchange financial identification (i.e. bank ID and account number) is also increasing. If I choose another form of identification, can we both agree on the payment method, and does that payment method support the identification we wish to use?

An increasingly common approach to identifying "me" is either through my mobile number, or through my email address - information I am more willing to exchange with someone that I do not wish to share my banking details with.

So why aren't these 'ubiquitous' methods of identifying (the payment destination) universally supported? Certainly, there are options available to me: companies exist that allow me to send money to an email address; in some countries I can make a payment directly to a mobile telephone number.

What is needed is a central repository that allows banks' customers to register their 'alternative' forms of identification. I would register my mobile number and my email address with my bank (and against my account). The bank would register these details with this central repository. Ideally the organisation managing this central repository would then also operate as a central clearing house for the movement of funds to these destinations, so if I wanted to send money to a colleagues mobile number, I simply instruct my bank to "Pay +447770123456 £50". This repository might also consider allowing Mobile Network Operators to be part of this payments infrastructure.

Finishing on the issue of trust, as this would be a global repository we have to consider who might host and run it. Not likely to be a new entrant, rather a mature proven company. We don't want to incur disproportionate fees for small value payments either. It would be great if this company was already plugged in to the bulk of banks and financial institutions as well - to accelerate time to market.

Can anybody think of such a company?



Comments: (3)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 03 February, 2011, 11:35

FiServ's ZashPay allows a payer to direct her bank to send money by only quoting the payee's mobile phone number. 


As far as I know, ZashPay is only available via the bank's Internet Banking portal. While extending it to the mobile channel will face the usual challenges related to security and ROI, it should work on the back of whatever repository of mobile phone numbers that already exists today. 

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Tim Tyler
Tim Tyler - Misys - London | 03 February, 2011, 11:53

Thanks for the comment on ZashPay. However, this is exactly the scenario that should be avoided. ZashPay is US only (according to their information), and both the payer and the payee need to have a relationship with ZashPay. I don't want to have to maintain multiple "method" relationships, just to cater for who I may be sending money to/receiving money from. I already have a trusted relationship with my bank, and it is them that I want to use for remitting funds. There is a dash for covering this middle-ground at the moment, with companies such as ZashPay competing with PayPal and others. This market fragmentation will - in my opinion - disrupt P2P adoption. We need a global network with common points of reference, where banks and other FI's (and perhaps MNO's) can leverage existing connectivity or rapidly plug in to. Not to the advantage of the likes of ZashPay, admittedly, but it would reinforce the banks' position as your trusted financial partner.

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Mary Beth Lawson
Mary Beth Lawson - Fiserv - Dublin | 04 February, 2011, 13:49

Tim -

We agree with your assessment that, for the most part, consumers want to make financial transactions using their existing bank accounts. Our financial institution clients have long been the face of Fiserv, and with ZashPay they continue to be. If a bank customer uses ZashPay through their bank they do not have to have a separate relationship with ZashPay or Fiserv - they make the payment or receive the payment through their existing bank account.

We currently have over 600 financial institutions signed up for the service, however, that does not represent the complete ubiquity required for such a service to be successful. We have therefore established a public site (ZashPay.com) so consumers whose bank is not yet part of the ZashPay network can send or receive money online or via a mobile app. We believe that a key feature of ZashPay is its ability to leverage a consumer's existing bank account to send money - there is no third party account outside of a bank as there is with PayPal, for example.

As of today any consumer with a U.S. bank account can use the service to send money to another consumer with a U.S. bank account using only their mobile number or email address, and we believe that is a big step toward the type of P2P payment perfection you envision. We're in the process of growing the ZashPay network of financial institutions and building out the service functionality daily, with plans on the roadmap to enable international transactions in the future.

Mary Beth Lawson

Fiserv Associate



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job title Product Manager
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Product Manager for social, location and mobile within Misys. Customer interaction across banking verticals.

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