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Do not repeat the mistakes of the internet banking age

Mobile payments, mobile banking, mobile commerce.  These are the buzzwords around at the moment with new schemes being launched every day.  Which particular concept will be successful is difficult to tell.  Indeed as different countries and different population segments have different expectations there are likely to be several models needed to match the needs of customers.

One common factor behind all these schemes is the incorporation of some form of payment service.  Most of the discussion and debate is around the way the service is presented to the customer, how  it operates on the mobile device and related elements such as the security of the service.  However, that payment has to be processed somewhere which is often the forgotten piece of the puzzle.

When internet banking came along the same focus was on the delivery of the service to the consumer and less time was spent considering where the processing of transactions was going to be happen.  Many banks ended up putting in new systems or struggling to achieve good availability because they did not explore the right channels inside the bank to handle the transactions.  We should not make the same mistake with mobile.

Typically mobile banking is replicating the functionality available through the ATM channel while mobile payments and mobile commerce are a mixture of ATM and POS services.  So those core systems are probably the right ones to carry out the processing of the transactions.  Scalability, reliability, availability are fundamentals for these services which exactly meet the needs of the mobile service.  Transaction volumes are an unknown quantity so being able to scale to meet the take up is vital.  Reliability, in accurately handling activity is essential to provide confidence in the new transaction services.  And ensuring 24/7 availability is obviously needed from the outset.   And often they are designed with the flexibility to handle traffic from many sources.

Staff in the channel development side of the business need to explore with their colleagues in the very traditional ATM and POS area how to make use of these existing processing services.  Otherwise there will be more silos and complexity where many are trying to simplify a complex payments processing model.

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