When VeriFone speaks, they often reveal the next advances in Mobile Commerce. They spoke clearly at the GSMA conference earlier this month regarding both Near Field Communications (NFC) and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).
In October of 2010 when VeriFone announced that for the first time their systems could circumvent the established payments industry, it received little fanfare because there was no adoption and no clear path to mass appeal. Today, every Home Depot in the United States accepts PayPal as a form of payment, and that is only the beginning. Next, in 2011 VeriFone announced its services would expand to include loyalty and social media components, and again the popular reception was, “yeah, that will be great someday.” But today, behemoth Google considers VeriFone a key strategic partner. This month, when VeriFone clarified its position on NFC and opened the doors for MNOs, it is likely reveals the next industry steps once again. They said:
"There is no Mobile Commerce without a NFC Phone. There is no Mobile Commerce without a NFC POS." -VeriFone
One of the central concepts in my book, the SmartPhone Wallet, Understanding the Disruption Ahead, is the notion that industry incumbents will be able to design and deploy a product so far-reaching and with such market penetration that other forms, other services, or other strategies cannot be effectively brought to market. Whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing, it appears to be the real thing.
Here is the full press release from VeriFone supporting a new entrant into the Payments ecosystem, the Mobile Network Operator (MNO):
VeriFone Enables Mobile Network Operators to Manage NFC Wallet Acceptance End to End PAYMEDIA Universal Acceptance Platform Provides Complete Management Services for Mobile Wallet Acceptance at Merchant Systems
BARCELONA – February 26, 2012 (Mobile World Congress, Booth #2D06) – VeriFone Systems, Inc. (NYSE: PAY), today announced the PAYMEDIA Universal Acceptance Platform (UAP), a complete suite of services and software that enables Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to manage mobile wallet acceptance at merchant systems.
PAYMEDIA UAP closes the loop between wallet providers and merchants, providing everything needed to deliver the benefits of advanced mobile payment, promotions and couponing applications to millions of consumers and merchants worldwide. PAYMEDIA UAP ensures that mobile wallet transactions of all types will be processed smoothly at merchants and allows wallet providers to greatly expand the variety of services and applications offered though their wallets and increase consumer stickiness of their apps.
“The missing element in MNO’s mobile wallet plans has been the lack of focus on how to provision, integrate and manage wallet and value-added acceptance apps at merchants’ systems,” said Paul Rasori, VeriFone senior vice president of marketing. “VeriFone’s PAYMEDIA UAP bridges that gap in the NFC ecosystem by managing the complexities of mobile commerce acceptance and ensuring a seamless buying experience no matter what wallet, app or program consumers bring to stores.”
The PAYMEDIA UAP services and software enable MNO’s and wallet providers to easily download wallet acceptance applications directly to merchants’ point of sale systems and allows merchants to connect the app to the provider via the cloud-based PAYMEDIA Network Services. Utilizing the PAYMEDIA infrastructure, wallet providers maintain full management capabilities over their applications with the ability to update them at any time with new features and services managing every aspect of acceptance.
PAYMEDIA UAP includes the PAYMEDIA Network Services, Estate Management software, and the VeriFone NFC App Manager built into all VeriFone NFC acceptance platforms. In addition, the PAYMEDIA UAP platform provides open API common interface standards to ensure that value-added wallet data not traditionally supported will flow seamlessly through merchant systems without disruption.
PAYMEDIA Universal Acceptance Platform is a global service offering to MNO’s and other wallet owners. For more information please visit http://www.verifone.com/uap.aspx
Of course, the industry impact of this position cannot be measured today, but check back in 6 to 12 months (maybe 18), and I think the results will be clear: NFC will be the de facto transmitter/receiver of Mobile Commerce because some of the key drivers of this industry want it that way, and with MNO support, the Mobile Commerce ecosystem is ready for business.
David W. Schropfer is the co-founder of the Luciano Group, an international consulting firm, where he is responsible for strategic development and negotiation for the firm and its clients in the areas of mobile payments, partnership agreements, and interconnections. He is also the author of The Smartphone Wallet - Understanding the Disruption Ahead, the first book on mobile payments for consumers and retailers.