SEP Bulgaria JSCo and its partners Allianz Bank Bulgaria, Postbank (part of Eurobank EFG Group), Globul (part of COSMOTE Group), and KFC (Samex Ltd.) announced the official pilot launch of mobile payments at a demonstration held on the 30th September, 2009.
This places Bulgaria next to the leaders in the mobile payments industry. The pilot launch is a significant milestone for the first participants in their quest to popularize the innovative service and the final step before the service's market introduction, expected in the beginning of 2010.
The pilot will be conducted in Sofia amongst a group of 300 employees of the partner companies. They will be able to test the various services based on the technological platform, developed by SEP Bulgaria JSCo. These services include integrated business solutions for the acceptance of mobile payments - "Market infrastructure" - and end-customer services - "Mobile wallet", "Mobile banking", and "Electronic purse". During the pilot, the selected participants will be able to perform real operations through their mobile phones, such as: current account balance inquiries, mobile money transfers, monthly bills payments, prepaid electronic mobile phone vouchers to Globul, and goods' and services' purchases at retail stores and online.
"I am happy to declare that we, together with our partners, are ready to expand the merchant network accepting mobile payments." stated Atanas Sharkov, SEP Bulgaria's JSCo Chief Operating Director. "The electronic services network is open to all market participants - mobile operators, banks, and merchants. This eliminates the necessity for substantial investments, on behalf of the participants, and saves efforts for the mass promotion of the new electronic services. The main advantages for the merchants are the improvement of the service channel, increased sales efficiency, and market access to the key participants' critical consumer group - banks and mobile operators." added Mr. Sharkov.
The introduced mobile payments' service is SIM based and is compatible with all mobile phones. All financial transactions, except micro-payments with "Electronic purse" for amounts of up to 20BGN, are approved with a PIN code, entered in the mobile phone, and signed with an electronic signature. The electronic signature is generated in the SIM card after the client has personally created his/hers PIN code during the initial registration. This adds high security level to the service's advantages - convenience, ease of use, and mobility. These advantages make it extremely appealing to the customers.
SEP Bulgaria JSCo is licensed, by the Bulgarian National Bank, operator of an electronic payments system with an electronic payments instrument "Mobile payment". As such, SEP Bulgaria JSCo is responsible for the development and maintenance of the technological infrastructure allowing for the working of the electronic services network. In essence, the company serves the role of a Trusted Service Manager (TSM) and follows the GSMA acclaimed open business model. This suggests that every participant in the electronic services network has a defined role and offers a particular service to the end-customer. The mobile operators, currently Globul, offer the "Mobile wallet" application, which allows the clients to access and manage their bank accounts from their mobile phones. The role of the banks is to perform the financial servicing of end-customers and merchants as bank issuers and acquirers of mobile payments. In that respect, "Mobile banking" and "Electronic purse" are banks' services. "Mobile banking" combines all financial transactions, carried through the mobile phone and approved with a PIN code, while "Electronic purse" is used for PIN-less contactless payments for amounts of up to 20 BGN. The "Market infrastructure" service is offered by the technological operator SEP Bulgaria and is directed to retail and online merchants who wish to expand their customer base by offering mobile payments. SEP Bulgaria JSCo provides the required infrastructure and performs the technological integration.