Guillermo Escofet comments on Boku’s m-wallet
Boku’s m-wallet announcement is interesting in that an online player that has so far made a living from enabling Web users to make micropayments charged to their mobile bills is now offering mobile operators a readymade platform to enable credit-card contactless payments on phones. Most operators are keen to secure a key role in the mobile NFC payments space before it is captured by over-the-top players such as Google (which last year launched its NFC Google Wallet), but few commercial launches have been seen so far and take-up has been poor. A major barrier is the scarcity of NFC-enabled handsets and NFC-enabled payment terminals out there.
Boku is offering an m-wallet linked to a prepaid card from Mastercard to make both online and point-of-sale purchases on phones, and is supplying NFC stickers for phones that are not equipped with contactless technology – all packaged as a “whitelabel solution” for mobile operators.
Many operators have launched or are in the process of launching prepaid credit cards linked to NFC-enabled m-wallets, and many more still have joined operator alliances and joint ventures to set up nationwide mobile payment systems. But many might also welcome a readymade solution for rolling out NFC payments – especially if they can stamp it with their own brand.
At the same time though, central to operators’ strategy to secure themselves a role in the mobile NFC services value chain is to push for SIM cards to become the default for securing contactless payment services on phones – because the SIM card is the only piece of handset real estate over which they still have complete control, potentially allowing them to levy some kind of charge on NFC transactions. NFC stickers take that control away from operators.