Mobile payments threatened by diverse offerings, says platform provider

Mobile payments platform provider paythru claims the numerous solutions risk confusing consumers and hindering wide-scale adoption in the UK.

Its warning folllows KPMG research, which claims mobile payments are set to reach £591bn by 2015; and the recent development of solutions such as Google Wallet, Barclays’ Pingit and PayPal’s InStore. 

Paythru is calling for mobile payments providers to align their offerings and meet existing standards such as the Payment Cards Industry Data Security Standards. 

Google recently demonstrated the need for this when it showed how easy it is to hack into the phone and gain access to personal card details, said Paythru.

Keith Brown, managing director at paythru, said: “As it stands the mobile payments market is very fragmented: digital wallets, NFC and mobile apps are all designed to enable m-commerce. 

“However, many of these have limitations. For example, NFC is only really intended for low-cost purchases and requires the customer to be present within the store, which essentially means it isn’t mobile in its true sense. 

“Industry standards like the Payments Services Directive already provide the blueprint for mobile payments; it’s up to businesses to make sure they agree on a clear and coherent offering to customers. To maximise on emerging m-commerce channels, we need to provide open technology platforms that do not change existing behaviour or the payment methods (credit cards, debit cards) for customers and merchants alike. Above all, solutions need to be universal: available from any location, on any device (not just iPhone or Android), with any bank and over any network.”

Security is also a big concern with mobile payments at the moment, according to paythru. 

The Google Wallet for one has suffered in the past, when it was found its accounts could be hacked into within minutes, said paythru. 

While companies race to launch their latest mobile payments solution, paythru is urging them to ensure security is watertight for the benefit of the whole industry. Adhering to industry standards like PCI DSS is essential and compliance to Level 1 will make mobile payments as secure as the banks, the company said.

Google recently criticised Project Oscar (the mobile payments initiative from O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere) for being anti-competitive, as it could prevent competing solutions from working in the UK. 

Brown said: “It’s clear to see companies have leapt on to the mobile payments band wagon without considering what’s most important: the customer.  It seems every company is looking to become the dominant player in the market, resulting in too many offerings out there that lock out large groups of customers. 

“Rather than launching restrictive payment methods, we need to agree on mobile payment channels that deliver the best benefits to the consumer that anyone can use in a simple and intuitive manner. 

“Mobile payments should also be open and based on existing purchasing behaviour to encourage as many consumers to adopt mobile payments as possible.

“Above all, the industry needs to focus on providing the best user experience possible to encourage repeat purchases. This will ultimately ensure the success of mobile payments. If the industry fails to do so and continues to fight and undercut one another, mobile payments will never become mainstream technology. 

“With retailers in particular facing the death of the high street, they need to maximise on all channels available to them in order to survive,” said Brown.