Payments processing firm VocaLink plans to launch a mobile payments system next year that will work across every device, operating system and bank, although the technology could fall flat if the banks do not support it by developing the required apps.
Mark Terry, managing director for Transaction Services at Vocalink, said that the new mobile system is based on the firm’s Faster Payments technology, which was launched back in 2008 to support immediate payments.
“We have just actually delivered to the Payments Council a mobile payments scheme,” he said during a media Q&A at the Oracle OpenWorld show in San Francisco.
“A mobile payments service requires ubiquity, and we already have that. With our Faster Payments Service, you get ubiquity, it can run on any phone with any network from any bank.”
Terry explained that with the VocaLink service, all users will require to make use of the service will be their mobile phone number.
“A good example is if you’re around a table at dinner and want to split the bill – give me your phone number, and we’ll create a faster payment to that account,” he said.
However, the scheme relies on support from all banks across all mobile operating systems to fully take off, as the banks will need to create an app for each platform to offer to their customers.
Barclays launched a similar mobile payments service in February, but while Pingit is available to Apple, Android and BlackBerry users, it is still not available to Microsoft Windows Phone users.
“We create the infrastructure and ubiquitous facility, but whether the bank chooses to allow its customers to use this infrastructure, that’s their decision,” Terry said.
“We believe that because the Payments Council is an industry body, and we sold it direct to them, it effectively brings all the banks together, and they’ll collaborate as it’s the right thing to do for the industry.”
Where the banks can get individual value out of the system is by developing the apps to put on the phone, so they can offer it to their customers, according to Terry.
“The banks would be pretty foolish not to enable all phone types, but if the cost or use model is prohibitive, then they might not support all phones,” he added.
VocaLink plans to launch the service in the UK in 2013.
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