20070226

Pay-Buy Mobile - DoCoMo inside

KTF will pioneer GSMA's "Pay-Buy Mobile" initiative in Korea this summer, a couple of weeks after SK Telecom's launch of a service with Visa International (30,000 3G subscribers from April on).

PBM combines NFC (which should please Nokia) with SIM/Cards techno (which should please operators), and the initial casting of 14 operators from 3 continents looks strong : overall, AT&T; China Mobile; KALL; KTF; MCI; MTN; NTT DoCoMo; Rogers Wireless; Smart Communications; Telenor, TeliaSonera; Telecom Italia; Turkcell, and Vimpelcom claim 900 millions subs.

Yet, don't look for a SK Telecom, a Orange, a Telefonica or a Vodafone out there. The Sympay syndrom ? The fear NTT DoCoMo might steal the show and try to make PBM converge with its own initiatives (FeliCa and EDY through BitWallet) ?

Don't look for a bank either. At this stage.

What I do see though, is a transcontinental initiative with a GSMA label. And only a crosscontinental move could force a change in Europe, GSMA's birthplace. Up to now, a lobbying deadlock has been preventing operators and financial institutions from reaching an agreement and m-payment from progressing towards standardization. No-one wants to lose ground on one's home turf (mobility, financial services), and no-one wants a competitor to succeed (ie banks blocking deals between cellcos and more reactive players like Visa or Amex).

Should this G14 federate a few institutions across - say - Asia and North America, things may change. No financial institution will want to lose the face on that one for too long.

DoCoMo did put a few coins in AT&T and KTF. An expensive dime at a not always relevant time. We are about to know if they were just playing with one-armed bandits or really expecting some payback.



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