Mobile payment needs more than an iPhone Bump to get going

I’d like to apologize to Darrell MacMichael of PayPal Canada for costing him all of $8 while we were filming a demo of his company’s new Send Money Version 2.0 application for the iPhone.

Send Money is an app that enables smart phone users to access their PayPal accounts with their mobile device. The new version works with the Bump app on the iPhone which allows people to exchange information on their phone by just touching (or bumping) their iPhones together.

The plan was to take a video of Darrell sending money to officemate JonMichael Moy – the two guys doing a sort of props move with their iPhones. Unfortunately the “money shot” as Darrell called it took four takes.

PayPal’s Send Money for iPhone is just one of the many strategies that businesses are trying to experiment with in order to cash in on mobile payment.

Krista Napier, IDC Canada analyst and blogger, discusses in our Voices panel how Verrus Mobile is using the technology to let motorists in Vancouver pay for their parking meter fees with their cell phones. Motorists even receive a call on their cell phones to warn them that their parking minutes are about to expire.

Even back in 2005, there have been initiatives in Africa and Europe to enable people to access and withdraw funds from their bank accounts using cell phones, according to Tim Richardson, e-commerce and international business professor for Seneca College and the University of Toronto.

The promises of mobile payment are huge. ABI Research estimated that consumers worldwide will be spending more than $119 billion using their mobile phones by 2015.

Despite such projections, for a technology that has been around for nearly half a decade, mobile payment is still far from mainstream adoption. Sure there have been some successful experiments with paying for gas and coffee with the use of key fob devices. But the vision of people using their mobile phones as virtual wallets remains dim.

It’s going to take more than one or two cool applications on your iPhone, Nexus One or BlackBerry to jump start mobile payment’s run for global acceptance. For that to happen retailers, financial institutions as well as device and software maker need to come together to develop standards of communication and transactions – just as various industries did in order to push credit cards and debit cards.

Businesses will also have to work on a massive marketing drive that will change people’s attitudes about security and privacy concerns about using mobile phones to pay for goods and services. ‘If Paris Hilton’s cell phone can be hacked how safe can our cell phones be?’ people might say.

Perhaps, achieving an acceptable perception of security would be enough. After all, credit cards and debit cards remain relatively unsafe and yet they have become very pervasive.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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