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Bankers plot telco bypass for payments

Tight margins not to be shared with operators

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The Payments Council has been explaining its plans for a mobile payment platform: one that doesn't leave a cut for the network operators but keeps the revenue for the bankers.

The council's head of innovation has been talking to NFC World about how the platform will work, and being quite explicit that telcos won't be invited to share the cake.

The organisation, which counts all the significant UK banks in its membership, is putting a tender together for the development of a standard backend architecture to handle payments made on mobile phones, regardless of the handset technology used.

"Some may go for NFC, and some may use browser-based systems or SMS methods, it's up to them", Richard Martin of the Payments Council told NFC World, but he also explained that operators shouldn't expect to make any revenue from the wallet replacements:

"I wouldn't say the new platform will necessarily cut mobile operators out of payment services ... [but it's] not something that telcos have traditionally been set up to work around."

Martin doesn't dismiss revenue opportunities for telcos, suggesting that they might gain from additional data usage, but fortunately the UK's network operators already have a plan in place to make money from NFC without taking a cut of every payment.

That plan involves creating a standard advertising platform, enabling an advertiser to sign a single deal to provide an NFC application (such as a loyalty or identity card) which will be usable by customers of any network operator – except Three, which was inexplicably left out of the deal.

Elsewhere in the world, operators are still hoping to make money by charging payment services for space in their NFC handsets, or by running their own payment systems and taking a cut of every transaction, but in the UK it seems banks will make money from money while operators will make money from advertising, and consumers just have to get used to it. ®

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