Mobile Thursdays: Mobile banking

By Randall Snare

Mobile Thursdays is our weekly roundup of the latest (or most interesting) in mobile, curated by our very own Laurence Veale. We publish on a Monday, simply to rival Luke W.

This week’s post is all about banks. We promise no depressing economy talk.

Google Wallet for Subway

Image from

Telecoms or bank?

First up is Christer Holloman’s article about O2′s new service, the O2 wallet. Interesting, because O2 is a mobile phone operator, not a bank. The O2 wallet lets you send and receive money via text message among friends and shop via scanning bar codes. It also acts as a virtual wallet, by connecting your phone to your credit card. Holloman asks:

In the same way industries like music, film and publishing have had to re-think their business models for the digital age the next sector to be seriously disrupted is financial services, but is the answer O2 Wallet?

Technology versus humans

Next up is Alastair Sharp’s story about Canada’s mobile commerce. Mobile wallets are about technology certainly, but they also won’t take off until people are ready for them. Sharp claims that Canadians are more ready than other countries:

Canada already has more mobile-ready contact-less readers per capita than anywhere else in the world, with this type of reader installed in between 12 and 15 per cent of all retail outlets.


A plus for Canada is that many Canadians either already own the kind of advanced smartphones needed for such transactions or will soon, given the rapid rate at which Canadians upgrade.

But no matter what the technology, if the need isn’t there, it won’t take off. Sharps cites what happened in Japan:

But winning consumer acceptance is not a given, and skeptics note the Japanese experience. Contact-less cards and readers are well established there, but consumers haven’t taken the bait, at least in part because the phone offerings are no better than those from competing card plans.

Europe nixes merger

NFC world covers the European Commission’s decision to delay the joint venture among Vodafone, Telefonica and Everything Everywhere. The plan was to offer a mobile wallet throughout the UK. So far, so good. But the issue here is the market and competitiveness. If the joint venture goes ahead, will that stop other companies from offering mobile wallet services? Mobile operator Three thinks so.

The European Commission says about its own investigation:

The Commission’s preliminary investigation indicated potential competition concerns in the nascent markets of mobile payment applications supply (so-called ‘mobile wallets’), mobile advertising and related data analytics services, where the joint venture may have very high market shares.

Forget paying. Now it’s “pinging”

Finally, Gareth Shaw writes about Barclays new Pingit app, which lets you transfer money using someone’s mobile phone number.

This is old news for Kenya:

in places like Kenya, mobile transfers of this nature have existed for years. It has a reported 14 million subscribers and 28,000 agents, which allow Kenyans to withdraw money. The scheme has been so popular that it’s been rolled out to other countries, including Afghanistan and Tanzania.

Is Europe ready for mobile wallets?

The technology is coming, but are we as consumers ready? Do any of you use mobile banking? What do you think of it?