Thursday, August 12, 2010

Will your phone (ever) replace your credit card?

I read a very good article on this recently making the statement that your phone can't really replace your credit card (Read here). Amongst others the article makes the following valid points:
a. Payment mechanisms require systems (and networks) that are way more reliable than what Mobile Operators can provide today.
b. Payment systems must be sufficiently ubiquitous that it can be used at most places where you want to pay
c. Many new schemes have tried, but have failed spectacularly to replace existing credit cards and finally
d. The business model on how to make an alternative work ("split the loot") is just not available.

Game set and match. No go, cards are with us for ever. It is impossible to replace them and in some ways, one must agree. Cards work perfectly, everywhere, every time, without a glitch...

Well, actually not. Cards are vulnerable in one way: it is difficult to use them when they are not present. The biggest flaw that cards have is that they are something physical and a lot of the design and the security is built on the fact that a card must be present when a payment is made. This would be okay if all payments that we make are in the real world, but truth is that this is not the case. More and more payments are made in the virtual world and this is where cards are flawed. Using digital payment instruments (like phones) and all the security that they bring is much more suitable. Phones may just start replacing cards in places where cards are needed, but where cards are not present. (So called card not present (CNP or MOTO) payments).

In the recent eBillme Online Spending Index (Read here), the volume of online payments (read card not present) grew with 8% quarter on quarter. That is a lot. Maybe cards will get replaced by mobile phones when online becomes more popular than actual retailers. Statistics seems to show that this is possible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Actually, by the look of things it's already about to happen in the Netherlands. It's not so much your mobile phone is replacing you credit card. But actually your mobilephone (or SIM card to be more specific) is BECOMING your credit card.
Transactions don't take place over the GSM or any other mobile network. Instead the phone is used to validate the transaction.