M-Commerce and Mobile Payment Solutions
Smartphones are mobile phones that offer more computing prowess than a typical feature-based phone. They run complete operating systems - iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Symbian and Palm being amongst the many popular platforms. The growing demand for business and entertainment on the move has led to huge boost to the smart phone industry. Mobile apps for smartphones can be typically downloaded from the App Store of the company. Using a smartphone to access e-mail, watch movies, play games, and to work on productivity apps is something most people would identify with.
Types of Mobile Payment Solutions
There are essentially two types of Mobile Payment or m-Commerce systems:
Over-the-Network Systems use the mobile network to start, process, and complete payments. For instance, buying an airline ticket using the mobile phone, paying a utility bill or simply buying ringtones or videos from the service providers portal all constitute over-the-network payments.
Contactless Payment Systems use an RFID or NFC embedded in the mobile device to start and process payments. For example, one could simply scan the phone under an RFID-enabled device and use it for payments at a supermarket. Such systems are still evolving, and will take time to be adopted. There are now new devices in the market, with the phone manufacturer embedding an RFID or NFC within the mobile phone. Typically there will also be a tie-up with a payment franchisee such as Master or Visa.
M-Commerce applications let users make payments across a variety of industries such as Hospitality, Retail, Banking and Airlines to name a few. Generic mobile marketing apps such as coupons and merchandising are other variations of m-commerce solutions.
Most apps require integration with payment systems such as Master™, Visa™ and PayPal™ networks, and are often customized for various mobile platforms such as iPhone9™, Android™, BlackBerry™ and so on. Apps may also be store-specific and require personalization features to make them more effective.
Here are some examples of m-Commerce solutions:
- Ticket Sales
Ticketing applications let the mobile user buy or sell movie, theatre, airline tickets using the mobile phone. The mobile user could view the various list of events, and buy or sell tickets.
- Restaurant Apps
The Hospitality industry continues to make forays into the mobile space. Ordering apps let you order a complete meal using the mobile phone. For example, the user can customize a pizza, or create a take-away order from the list of items.
- Mobile Concierge Apps
Mobile users can search for theatres, shopping arcades, restaurants, lounge bars etc., and they can make reservations, buy tickets and so on. Each user can have a personalized program, which can be saved and changed at a later date.
- Mobile Marketing Apps
- Mobile Deals: Mobile users get various discounts, and buy deals on-the-go. For example, restaurants, bars or shops may offer various deals and may even use GPS features to find deals closest to the mobile user.
- Mobile Coupons: Mobile coupons are a popular app for mobile phone users. They are a marketing tool, and to be effective often need to be store-specific and integrated into the shopping experience.
- Retail Store Apps
Users can buy goods using the mobile phone, much as they would do shopping online. Some of these may be customized for hand-held devices such as tablets, which offer the convenience of larger screens. Sometimes, companies may offer free services such as customizable menus, recipes and so on, to encourage people to visit the store, and thereby make a purchase.
Retail stores such as apparel, jewellery, footwear, home improvement and books may offer some or all of their collections on the mobile phone and can be bought using m-commerce applications.
- Social and Gaming Apps
Mobile gaming apps are beginning to integrate in-game content purchase by integrating with payment systems. Mobile browser-based games are used to generate revenue by letting users purchase virtual currency via standard payment systems. When such games are based on a social networking platform, it lets the gaming app have instant access to many millions of other users, thus creating a better distribution network.
- Banking Apps
Mobile banking services are increasingly popular. Most banks offer many banking services such as credit card payments, bill payments, on-the-go access to financial services and real-time personalized messages to consumers.
While m-Commerce continues to evolve, mobile merchandising, contactless payment solutions, mobile coupons, mobile wallet, banking applications and B2B mobile platforms are expected to make in-roads in the near future.
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