Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Value Store System

It is impossible to provide a payment system (any payment system) without connecting (or being able to access) some kind of value store. A credit card based payment system must debit a credit card account and an EFT payment system must debit a bank account somewhere along the line. This is the case for mobile payments too. Without being able to debit (or credit) some kind of value store, it would be impossible to deploy a payment system.

Most mobile payment solutions provide a mobile payment experience that integrate into an existing value store. For instance, mobile banking solutions that provide a mobile channel to existing bank accounts or mobile payment solutions that mobile enable an existing credit card. The challenge with these solutions is to ensure a seamless integration to the existing systems. Some of the challenges is to ensure that the registration process (when a mobile phone gets linked to a credit card for instance) does not create an opportunity for fraud. Also the boundaries and rules related to liabilities and disputes are not always easy to implement consistently.

Other solution providers (only a few) provide the ability to open a new type of value store that can be utilised to perform mobile payment transactions with. This facility is particularly interesting in markets where more people have mobile phones than does have bank accounts or credit cards. The advantage of this approach is that the value-store can be designed in such a way that it is much more tightly integrated with the mobile payment solution. At the same time many challenges must be overcome, like conformance to regulations, compliance with international protocols and the ability to perform audits and reconciliations that will be acceptable to a central bank.

The selection of and deployment of the value store element of the solution is probably the most important decision that can be taken. The different components that must ideally be present in a mobile enabled value store are:
  • Real-time clearing
  • Push and pull payment support
  • Support for a multitude of primitive transaction types
  • Security paradigms compatible with mobile enablement
  • Ease of use
  • Transparency
The key to deciding on a value store strategy should not be dictated by available technology, but rather be based on market realities and business objectives.

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