So is this International Mobile Payments week, or what? Out of nowhere there have been a raft of launches of mobile payment services, some of them pretty disruptive IMHO, and, of course, the Payforit Summit, which took place in London on Wednesday and attracted quite a crowd.
The two biggest initiatives in the world of m-payment that we have seen this week has been the launch of Zapp, but VocaLink and Zinc by WorldPay – both products that look to up the ante in terms of making simple mobile payments easy to do, ubiquitous and perhaps even something that consumers will actually start to use.
Of course they are up against some stiff competition, but they seem to have decided that now is the time to bolt out of the gate and really start pushing mobile payments to both merchants and consumers with the idea that someone has to if any of this is going to take off.
In light of all this, the Payforit Summit was particularly interesting. Now, Payforit is quite a slick payment took now, for digital goods and, if they can get it down to really low value transactions (and improve the outpayments still further) they are certainly on to something. It could have a bright future.
But a glance around the room at the event this week showed that, while a large crowd was keen to come along and learn more, it was a crowd made up of all the people who already know about Payforit. Where were the retailers? Where were the games providers? Where were the publishers, content owners and so forth?
I am not denigrating the organisers of the event: they did a fantastic job and it was a really interesting and informative conference. But the people who really need to know about it – not least so that they can start, as trusted brands, to push it at consumers – were conspicuous by their absence.
Now if you look at the marketing oomph that, say VocaLink, has put into launching Zapp and, to a lesser extent, WorldPay into rolling out Zinc, you see that the key now to getting these great mobile payments services used in anger by consumers comes down purely to marketing.
Payforit has a niche to fill and it can do it very well. But unless everyone knows that it is there and in particular it is pushed hard at the merchants who could get consumers using it then it will languish as an also ran.
There are a growing array of payments tools out there and no one – merchants nor consumers – really knows what to do. So they do nothing. This is what is holding back m-payments. It will take an Apple or a Google to come along and stick a sexy front end over a banks payment tools to get it into the mainstream, and by then it could well be too late for many of these other products to work.
So, Payforit people, why don’t you get together and each put in a bit of bunce and get some proper marketing to merchants done around this. It is these guys that should be at your events and should have gone home late last night, fed, watered and really seriously looking at how to implement Payforit on their sites. Ding ding. Round two….