Tag Archives: MOBILE

Is NFC taking over our wallets?

NFC is here!Well, maybe still a few months/years away of being thoroughly defined and reaching all regions and operators worldwide but trials have certainly started and big brands are looking into solutions to adjust their mobile payment offerings on this technology.

In the UK, mobile carrier Orange announced the first mobile phone contactless payment service in the country back in May this year. The app is called “Quick Tap” and you need to have a Barclays credit or debit card in order to use it. If you meet the requirements then you are ready to pay with your phone in more than 50.000 locations whether you want to pay in McDonald’s or to drink a Cappucino thanks to your phone in Pret a Manger.

In the meantime in the US, the Isis telcos (Verizon and AT&T, the two largest carriers in the US are part of this consortium) are key in the evolution of NFC; Companies with mobile platforms such as Google which recently announced their mobile wallet based on this technology and which is currently only supported by Sprint, will have to collaborate with the consortium if they want their solution to reach the majority of subscribers with Smartphones in the US. One of the main problems faced by these mobile platforms, is the lack of experience regarding regulations in mobile payments, implementing the level of security for this type of transactions, etc. Although, no doubt, give them some time and theirs will probably be the most popular and successful options.

Companies specialized in payments and financial services such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express don’t want to fall behind either, and take the risk of not being a strong competitor on this field by solely sticking to pure credit and debit card payments; This is why all of them in one way or another are starting to build their own solutions or partnering with other companies to do so.

Visa Mobile Contactless Payment solution was certified for commercial use at the end of 2010.This solution was included in the list of Visa compliant products available for potential commercial deployment by financial institutions in the U.S. and selected markets. Some of the Smartphone models compatible with their solution? BlackBerry® BoldTM 9650[2], the iPhone 4, the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, and the Android based Samsung Vibrant Galaxy S.

On the other hand, MasterCard has been looking into mobile payments since 2001, according to James Anderson, VP of Mobile at MasterCard. The company introduced “PayPass” back in December of 2002. They run a trial for this “contactless” payment program in a few markets with banking customers such as Citibank. Some brands such as McDonald’s started accepting this payment form back in 2004. It was that year when MasterCard also worked with Motorola to start testing NFC technology. Since NFC is based on existing contactless infrastructure, Paypass is a very important step towards this field. Through 2009 and 2010 Mastercard performed trials with Near Field Communication. Currently, MasterCard is working on different initiatives involving NFC (rumors of MasterCard’s involvement with Google and Citibank to build a Google-branded mobile payments system?) that will continue through 2012 and will definitely be a powerful option for mobile payments.

American Express? Yes, it made its first move towards NFC payments launching “Serve“, their digital payments platform.

You will be making mobile payments, no doubt

Everybody agrees that mobile phones and applications are the hottest topic in technology. There is one area in particular however that is gaining a lot of popularity and will continue growing in the next few years; I am talking of course about mobile payments. This  technology allows the purchase of digital content such as ring tones or music and hard goods such as books, using a mobile phone.

There are currently 4 main models used for mobile payments;

  • Premium SMS (PSMS) – With this model, an end user can choose to buy a good with a mobile phone from a content provider’s website or by sending a text message to the merchant’s shortcode. The content provider will then send a premium SMS and the payment will be added to the user’s mobile phone bill. Sometimes the SMS sent by the end user to the shortcode is enough to bill the consumer without the need of receiving an SMS for the billing.
  • Direct Mobile Billing – In this model, the end user selects the mobile billing option when making a purchase at an e-commerce site and then has to go through an authentication process involving a secure pin and a one-time password, after which the consumer’s mobile’s account is charged for the purchase.
  • Mobile web payments (WAP) – The Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) is used for this model. The end user navigates through web screens and possibly other applications downloaded and installed on the mobile phone to make the payment.
  • NFC (Near Field Communication) – This system is still relatively new and it is expected to become one of the most popular ways to make payments with a mobile phone. It involves something as simple as waving the phone on  a reader enabled with NFC  to make a payment. Some smart phones already contain NFC chips to make use of this new technology.

Top companies such as Google are adopting these technologies and building their own products such as the Google Wallet, so stay tuned for new products and start betting on which will be the future winner in the mobile payments arena.

G+ professional community created an infographic describing how experts see mobile commerce in the next four years, focusing their attention in the NFC technology. Take a look and picture yourself waving your phone to buy a goodie because NFC is almost here;

via

SMS alerts available? Oh yes!

SMS is very much alive! We are always hearing of some cool applications and services that utilize SMS to engage customers. Here are a few examples:

  • Text message program that sends SMS to smokers in order to quit smoking (US). The program can either be ordered by a smoker or by friends and families of smokers. The smoker will receive text messages to show the damage that smoking does to your health.
  •  SMS alerts for pregnant women (India). The SMS alerts will go from reminding the patients about their doctor appointments to the diet they should follow to have a healthy pregnancy.
  • Free real time text message sewage alerts after raw sewage is discharged (England and Wales).  Sites included in the Sewage Alert Service offer surfers, water sports enthusiasts and beach users the best beach experience possible.
  • The Namibian Domestic Workers Union performed a survey by SMS to allow the public to send their opinion on the appropriate wage category for domestic workers. This data would be gathered to come up with a  proposal for a minimum wage formalized to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.
  • SMS program in Florida (US) to allow patients to send a text message to a dedicated SMS short code in order to instantly receive a message that lists the emergency room wait times for participating hospitals in their area.
  • SMS system that allows citizens  to learn the level of contamination due to ozone,  in order to help those with breathing problems and conditions of asthma (Spain).
  • Alerts via text message to warn of possible flooding, sent through the 93 water level sensors installed island wide in various locations (Singapore).

The most unusual I heard of? An SMS system alert for incoming missiles as an alternative to sirens (Israel)!

How do these services work? Users subscribe or sign up by sending a text message to a Long Code or a shortcode associated with this service.

If any of these modern technologies gave you an idea to implement an SMS service for your business or organization, you could start by visiting SMS providers like Nexmo SMS API, where I work as the Community Manager 🙂

A unique city surrounded by technology

Not in a million years I would have thought that I would end up reading technology articles, researching for websites and forums that talk about software development and technology and even discussing these subjects in my spare time. This is what living in San Francisco for 3 years, experience the work environment in Silicon Valley and finally move into working for a Startup company does to you 🙂

It is curious that it was not until I stopped going to Sunnyvale (which is supposed to be in the heart of Silicon Valley), that I realized I was surrounded by people who are either writing code anywhere they can find a WIFI connection, taking part on a business venture or attending a conference for app developers in the Moscone Center. Was I blind? No, just busy commuting to the heart of technology or what once was the heart. Bye bye Dot-com-bubble, hello Mobile world of possibilities.

If you want to be where it all begins, where successful companies such as Twitter or Zinga are born and brought up to success, without a doubt I would try San Francisco. It might be true that San Fran no longer has the main Financial District in the US or that the main port that once made the city well connected with the rest of the world is now in Oakland, but certainly, it still attracts entrepreneurs and bright minds to build the next idea that will turn around the world as we know it. You will find that brilliant minds are welcome, and  a huge contrast on the streets between technology experts and the ‘home of the homeless’ . Everyone is welcome here, be open minded and be a geek and you have a place in the unique city of San Francisco…

If you are really seriously thinking of bringing your startup to life in this city you will also be pleased to learn  that some lucky tech start-ups have just been granted a tax break from the Board of Supervisors that could save SF-based Internet companies millions. Of course, this is San Francisco, so if you are not among those that receive the tax break and you are not happy about it ,I found a website where apparently you can vote to give your opinnion https://www.votizen.com/issues/sfstartups/

Dear SMS: I still believe in you

This is officially my first blog post! (well, at least a blog called Teresa and dedicated to Teresa’s thoughts)

SMS will take a very important part of my posts and there is a good explanation for that. I have spent 5 years of my life working in the text messaging industry and with my current professional interests in Community Management, I spend most of my time reading about SMS in some form or another – news, articles, blogs, forums, Q&A’s…

Lately, I keep hearing that SMS is becoming old-fashioned and that mobile applications are overtaking some of the areas in which text messaging used to be the main communication channel.However, if that was the case, why are there signs everywhere that lead me to think the opposite?

Many companies stick to text messaging and new ones are adopting it. Companies as successful as McDonalds and Gap have launched text message marketing campaigns in the last few years and they are major established brands, that are not going anywhere and have the resources to use the best technology.

Leaving aside the main functionality of SMS for person to person interaction that we all use to tell our partners how late we are for dinner, and focusing on the Application to Business SMS interaction, there are still a lot of things that can be achieved with this technology. Text messaging is not only used  for  marketing but to communicate key information events such as time-critical alerts, banking, updates, reminders, mobile campaigns… When this kind of transactions are performed via SMS, there are a number of advantages that can’t be beat by any other new way of communication or technology, not even mobile apps.

What are some of the main advantages that make Application to Person (A2P) SMS communication unique and that will allow it to stay with us for quite a few years?

-Messaging performance and cost – it is reliable and cheap.
-Instant communication and interaction between a service provider and a client. Text messaging can go both directions : Business to Person and Person to Business.
-Companies also benefit of mobile receipts which allow you to get acknowledgement for your SMS. This is highly popular and successful in the financial-services industry as it provides you with the status of your message ,meaning greater certainty that your message will be delivered or that you will know if it wasn’t!
-You can reach users globally and by using solutions like Virtual numbers for incoming messages, users will even be able to reply from almost anywhere in the world.
-Think of how many people nowadays carry a phone and it is the first thing they check when they wake up and the last one before they go to sleep.
-Don’t forget that many people in different countries still do not have smart phones and also in some countries phones are more prevalent than the PC and internet, so there is an ubiquity to SMS reach.

Summarizing, yes I believe in the future of SMS and that is why it made it to my first post 🙂