Posts Tagged ‘T-Mobile’
The physical Swedish currency of the kronor might be used even less (or possibly even disappear) due to a new mobile payment system. WyWallet, a new mobile payment, could revolutionize the currency in this Nordic country even further and it might even make the country completely cashless. Currently bills and coins only represent 3 percent of the Swedish economy, compared to 7 percent in the United States or an average of 9 percent in the Eurozone, according to the Bank for International Settlements. And this currency percentage will likely decline even further in the country with the new mobile wallet payment of WyWallet.
The four largest telecom operators of Telia, Tele2, Telenor, and 3 launched the WyWallet in Sweden. The four operators claimed the mobile payment service will be available to 97 percent of Sweden’s mobile users. The services from WyWallet will allow person-to-person money transfers, online shopping payments, loading of prepaid cards, and paying for SMS-based services, such as public transport, ticketing, and even voting. WyWallet will also eventually support NFC (Near Field Communication) point-of-sale payments and live testing will begin in July 2012. The WyWallet will initially be available on Android and iOS, but the WyWallet for the Windows operating system will be launched later in 2012.
It is interesting to see that Sweden is taking an all-inclusive approach, with all four major telecom operators equally owning and benefiting from the new mobile payment service. The same inclusive mobile payment approach has also been implemented in smaller countries like Denmark and the Netherlands. We’ve have yet to see a large country, like the United Kingdom or Germany, take on this approach, most likely due to numerous telecom operators within those countries. However, the ISIS mobile payment platform was launched as a joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon here in the United States in 2010. Notably, Sprint is not a part of the ISIS venture.
The ISIS venture in the United States is a mobile wallet that also uses NFC technology to make mobile payments. The system is already being tested in Austin and Salt Lake City. However, the www.paywithisis.com website states that ISIS ready phones will be available this summer to the general public from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. It will be interesting if this technology (or another mobile payment technology) will disrupt the payment status quo in the United States and create a common mobile payment standard for us here in the States. Likewise, will the new mobile payment system enable us as a society to become even more cashless?
One thing that most experts believe is that cash will not disappear anytime soon in Sweden (or the United States), even with the introduction of WyWallet mobile payment system. The former deputy governor of Sweden’s central bank, Lars Nyberg once said that cash would survive “like the crocodile, even though it may be forced to see its habitat gradually cut back.” Personally, I think currencies will always survive due various reasons. For example, how would I as a tourist, pay for goods and services when visiting in Stockholm…most likely, I would pay in Kronor. Or, in another example, how do I pay for that hot dog at Hot Doug’s in Chicago that only takes cash? Regardless, it will be interesting to watch and see how these new mobile payment systems evolve over time.
In case you haven’t heard, Apple announced its upcoming mobile wallet service. It will be introduced through an app called Passbook with the release of its next iPhone. The app will allow users to store loyalty cards, event tickets, and coupons in the app. The company’s intentions are somewhat unclear, but experts seem to think this positions Apple to move into mobile payments mainly because it’s not a huge leap from storing loyalty cards to storing credit cards. And consumers already trust Apple – the company has 400 million credit cards on file through iTunes, so the transition could be relatively seamless.
Apple will enter an already crowded space. Google, of course, has been offering Google Wallet for a year now. The offering is limited by the fact that it works only with Sprint on a handful of phones, with one payment card – the Citi Mastercard – and can only be used where Mastercard’s PayPass system is used. Sprint has announced its intention to introduce its own mobile wallet, and it’s unclear how that will affect the mobile relationship. Isis has been in development for almost a year, and is a partnership between T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. American Express cardholders will be able to use the Isis mobile wallet, along with Chase, Capital One and Barclay cardholders. The service is scheduled to begin testing this summer in Salt Lake City and Austin, TX.
And then there’s Facebook. It’s hard to imagine that the company would actually move into the mobile wallet space. However, the company does seem to want a piece of the action, although probably most likely in the form of processing payments, rather than creating mobile wallet products for consumers. It recently moved away from its virtual currency to real money – something that the experts think is an indication of the company’s intentions to move into the payment space. And in a survey – this one by Cisco – 30% of consumers surveyed said they might one day use Facebook for banking services if they were offered. In terms of specific types of banking products, 14% said they would use a Facebook prepaid account they could reload, 8% would consider using a Facebook checking account or debit card, and 5% would consider a savings account or online bill-payment service. Despite the Cisco survey, there’s no indication that the company plans to provide traditional banking services. The company has also obtained money transmitter licenses in 15 states which are required for companies that keep, retrieve or transfer money. Additionally, any eWallet service would require a money transmitter license. The general consensus is that the licenses are an indication that Facebook plans to create a wider payment system, but guesses on the specifics vary widely.
Despite a large number of surveys done on the subject, it’s somewhat unclear how consumers feel about mobile payments. Starbucks is certainly a success story that no other retailer has been able to match. The app launched in January, 2011 and by the beginning of December 2012 the company stated that there had been 26 million transactions using the app. According to a study by the Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting group, which surveyed 600 consumers, 48% were “interested” in mobile wallets. Of those, 53% said they would prefer an alternate provider over their primary bank. But according to a survey by IDC, of consumers who have a phone enabled with Near Field Communications, only 2% are expected to use them for purchases in 2012.
The technology landscape is certainly littered with product failures. Some because of bad marketing approaches, some had fatal design flaws, and some because consumers just weren’t ready. But sometimes these product failures pave the way for the future. Remember Apple’s Newton? It was a complete flop, but in retrospect provided valuable information to make the iPad the huge success that it is. When Apple announced the release of the iPad, many naysayers talked about the failed Newton. Many of today’s mobile wallet players most likely won’t be around in the future. But most of them will probably provide valuable information on how to construct and offer a mobile wallet to consumers. Despite less than enthusiastic consumer sentiment, the mobile wallet is destined to happen sooner rather than later.
AT&T recently announced that its attempt to acquire fourth-place U.S. carrier, T-Mobile, is officially dead. Besides being a big loss of potential future earnings for AT&T, it also means the loss of $4 billion, which AT&T now owes to T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom in the form of money and spectrum access. So who’s next in line to fight for T-Mobile? It appears that Sprint may be back at it again. Sprint had previously negotiated with T-Mobile, prior to AT&T’s deal, and it might try again in an effort to increase its 17% market share, and stay afloat in a market that is overpowered by AT&T and Verizon. However, there are some obstacles Sprint would need to overcome for a merger to even be possible. One is the severe cash shortage they are experiencing as a result of their recent acquisition of the iPhone. Another is network compatibility issues. At this point this is all just speculation, as there are potentially many buyers chopping at the bit to get a piece of the lucrative wireless market. Until anything is decided for certain, we can definitely expect to see that super tall girl in the hot pink dress a little while longer.
September has not been a good month for AT&T. First the Justice Department sued them to block their $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile, and then Sprint joins in and files an antitrust lawsuit against them. We’re not even half way through the month! What’s next? The bigger question is whether AT&T can find a way past the full court press or is this the beginning of the end for their chances at wireless domination?
Sprint’s lawsuit just adds fuel to the fire by showing how much the merger would affect them and other smaller carriers if AT&T and Verizon have exclusive control of networks and 80% of wireless customers. But the biggest problem will come down to the Justice Department’s lawsuit. AT&T will need to prove that not only will this merger be beneficial to customers through things like better service and coverage, but show that customers will still have several options to choose from when it comes to wireless carriers in their area. Concerns about loss of jobs will also need to be resolved. With the right amount of lobbying, any suit (even one this big) can be settled. One positive is that these lawsuits have come earlier rather than later. Given that AT&T has until next September 2012 to gain approval, it should be ample time to do what they need to do to state their case. If AT&T gets through these two opponents (Justice Department and Sprint), it still leaves them in the final matchup with the FCC, which they have to win to gain the final clearance. The pressure will continue to be intense; we’ll see if AT&T can break through and hold the wireless crown in the end.