MPF moves nearer its goal


Formed in 2001 by a number of organizations from many industry sectors, the Mobile Payment Forum (MPF) has brought all the interested parties together and has made a point of not being led by either the telcos or the banks.

MPW listened in to the latest press roundtable, with MPF president Simon Pugh, SVP infrastructure and standards at MasterCard International, and Chris Bierbaum, senior manager, Sprint Nextel.

‘All interested parties have contributions to make and successful m-commerce will come with sustainable growth through cooperation through all of those parties as opposed to competing models,’ says Pugh.

‘Growth in the payment cards industry has come through the fact that we share a common infrastructure and acceptance methodology with our principle competitors. Key to growth is cooperation in some areas and competition in others.

What we have seen over the past few years in the mobile commerce space is the rise of digital content in a number of markets, even music downloads are possible and this is happening in the US and Japan as well as in Europe. However, we are also seeing commerce expand beyond those traditional mechanisms into other areas.’

Pugh says that the market is ‘beginning to see the use of PDAs and smart cell phones being used at the POS to buy face-to-face goods, and that is one of the principal activities of the MPF at the moment. To try and facilitate that as well as being used in other areas where cash is inconvenient, such as transportation, parking and smart kiosks.

Our (other) principal activity is around proximity payments which we define as a physical payment where the customer and merchant are in physical proximity. We have spent a lot of effort over the last two years on this activity and had great contributions from a number of participants from the forum.’

Says Bierbaum: ‘The proximity payment activity was begun a year or so ago. The first part was a proximity payment survey to ask all of the members whether they were involved in the activity or not to come forward and identify various activities around the world, be it a trial, pilot or commercial deployment so we could have an understanding of what was going on out there.

The second part was a technology assessment where we went in and analysed all different aspect of the various different activities within the different types of proximity payments.

From there we prepared a use case document where we identified over 15 or 20 use cases that are possible with the type of payment we are looking at. From there we decided to focus on the rise of contactless technology especially the RFiD technology.’

Pugh adds that ‘one of the other groups is the usability task force. What we recognized early on was that you can create the most secure, feature rich, payment mechanism in the world but if it is not intuitive and easy to use it will never work, never achieve traction in the market place.

The key is to make it easier than it is today to pay, we are the MPF and the principal focus is about enabling payment. From a MasterCard perspective, whenever we try to create a new payment product, we look at how we can make this better that it is today. Successful mobile payment solutions will only succeed if they create better payment consumer experience than what currently exists in the market place.’