Yesterday evening I enjoyed a lively debate on "Mobile Telephony and the Supply Chain" at the Financial Services Club Supply Chain Forum... good company, wine and food... but left with the nagging feeling that we had somehow missed the point in our discussions...
Much of he discussion revolved around mobile payments and the mobile phone / SIM card becoming the host device to rationalise the various types of mobile financial services:
- Online bank account access
- Remote payments
- Proximity payments
- Money transfers (Domestic and X-Boarder remittances)
General consensus seemed to be that it will not happen anytime soon in the UK despite plenty of examples in Asia of the model working.
Where I think we may have missed the point as a group was that we got bogged down in the hurdles / costs associated with achieving a switch from cash to cashless in terms of the technology and devices at the point of sale.
Some valid points were made regarding that investment, such as; the need to continue to absorb the cost of cash handling capability until volumes actually dropped to zero, and the pay-off between the costs of cash management for all parties versus investment
in new devices.
But isn't the real issue one of getting global agreement on a protocol for information exchange?
Who cares what the device is as long as one can use it? Surely, all we need to do is agree a protocol and then let open market forces drive down the cost of devices, rather than each method having a proprietary device and protocol?
I currently have 4 guests staying from France. Not wishing to make them targets for a mugging - I am assuming the FinExtra audience is above that and is only into i.d. theft (very hard if you only use cash!) - but before leaving France they all exchanged
€s into a wad of £ cash, which they are now walking around with.
Imagine they walked into the corner newsagent to buy a paper or sandwich and it had gone cashless and the alternative methods / devices (oyster reader, or whatever) are all proprietary to the UK or a particular banking network - they are buggered! (Excuse
my French!), just as we would be vice-versa in France.