Comment: Digital commerce takes main role at Mobile World Congress

There was a great buzz at Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year around mobile payments. Some of the market's biggest players announced new solutions that should appeal to an even broader range of customers. With the industry debating how to make mobile payments work better for customers, the focus now is to encourage retailers, banks, operators and card schemes to work together.

The GSMA's Innovation City was the epicentre for anyone looking to leverage technology to improve customer relationships and the brands that stood out were those that focused on providing consumers with a consistent experience on their mobile, from search to purchase.

Mobile retail continues to grow

The launch of new services such as Samsung LoopPay should further encourage people to shop this way. During MWC mobile retail was the focus of events featuring a panel made up of speakers from McDonald's, PayPal, Visa, Verifone, ChalkDust Consulting, Edgar, Dunn & Company, who explored how retailers can improve the customer experiences to drive loyalty and increase in store spend.

Many of the brands and merchants on show elsewhere were focused on providing consumers with a great mobile shopping experience. Of particular interest was Chunghwa Telecom's Pay & Redeem demo mobile platform for transport and ticketing in Korea, and the collaborative venture between Italy's four main operators Konvergence, which showed the future direction the industry, where collaboration provides a wealth of benefits to consumers.

Both of these solutions have convenience at their heart, because who doesn't want an easier way to travel, pay for restaurants and redeem loyalty and coupons from their favourite brands?

Mobile payments on the up

Samsung chose MWC to announce its new payment option, Samsung LoopPay, and Google's Sundar Pichai revealed his plans for Android Pay. The fact that major handset manufacturers are incorporating mobile payments service onto their devices means even more consumers will have access to mobile payments, which in turn will drive further adoption.

A discussion between key industry leaders from MasterCard, Deutsche Telekom, Citi, Royal Bank of Canada and Sequent, chaired by Claire Maslen, head of financial services at GSMA, focused on the future of contactless transactions and showcased some of the latest payments innovations, including the growth of Apple Pay and the potential of Softcard following its acquisition by Google.

Focus on security

Consumers are turning to mobile as an alternative to cards and cash for a number of reasons: mobile payments are international bank grade secure, they protect the consumer's digital identity, while over-the-air provisioning provides easy management if a mobile device is lost or stolen.

GSMA's Mobile Connect and Twitter's Digits provide an alternate way to securely log-in to an app or make a payment using authentication via a mobile device, meaning consumers can take back control by  deciding which information to share meaning better security, and ease of use.

Identity is also rightly a concern for retailers, who not only need to minimise fraud, but also look to use data to personalise marketing. By leveraging digital identity, for example, retailers can reduce coupon and loyalty fraud.

Collaboration is key

For mobile payments to thrive and scale, payments service providers need to deliver consistent and seamless services. Collaboration is the foundation of mobile commerce and customer engagement. If all parties work together towards the same goal, customers and staff in store won't need to cope with multiple processes to make and receive payments, redeem vouchers and accumulate loyalty points.

Companies such as Konvergence, which has joined forces with operators and card providers in Italy, are highlighting the way to the scale of collaboration that will result in an even richer mobile commerce service for consumers.

More and more people are already paying on their mobiles and a report by Adyen revealed in Q4 of 2014 more than a quarter of online global payments were made via mobile devices. But with the launch of new services we expect the interest and uptake of mobile payments services to continue to grow throughout 2015. For mobile payments to thrive and become a main stream payment option like chip and PIN, collaboration from all parties is essential.

Paul Crutchley, value added services director at mobile operators association the GSMA, writes a regular Essential Retail column on mobile technology's influence on retail.

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