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Rip it up and start again

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With just two short weeks to go to the Internet Retailing Conference on 14th October, the world of mobile has changed yet again. Two weeks ago, we were all agog at Apple Pay and trying to make sense of what that all means. Now, as I prepare to chair the mobile sessions at the Novotel in Hammersmith on the afternoon of the 14th I am again having to screw up my notes and start afresh.

This week we’ve seen PayPal separate from eBay and we have witnessed the emergence of mobile operator billing as viable way to start instantly paying for real world goods up to £30 in value. Oh, and IBM have found that no one is doing omni-channel retailing very well anywhere in Europe. It’s been quite a week.

The PayPal news could be misconstrued as a knee-jerk reaction to Apple Pay: hiving off the payment company to make it more agile, more focussed on mobile and less bogged down in eBay-think appears to be a result of all those op-ed pieces on Apple having 800 million iTunes sign ups compared to PayPal’s 150million users.

I am sure, however, it has been months in the making, but you can’t help but wonder. And it will certainly change the shape of the mobile payments landscape.

But perhaps more intriguing is the news that Boku – a payment company that was one of many that was trying to turn a dime by getting people to pay for digital content on their mobile by text and on the phone bill – has pulled off the coup of getting network operators and regulators across Europe to let it use this method of payment – called carrier billing – to pay for real world stuff.

This is quite something. It means that no one needs NFC. No one needs beacons. No one needs any fancy-pants wallets or anything: they just need their phone account. Suddenly, mobile payments has become simple to implement.

Of course, its limited to £30 per transaction and £200 per month – for now – but it’s a start. It may not yet revolutionise mainstream retail payments, but it could well see people using mobile to pay for cans of pop, newspapers and magazines and making other ‘micropayments’ in small retailers and the like, while the mainstream high street stores are still grappling with finding budget for beacons and other tech.

Who would have thought that it would be corner shops and kiosks that got the first taste of mobile payments in retail?

Our conference

Our next big event is the Internet Retailing Conference, to be held on October 14 at the Novotel, Hammersmith, London. Keynote speakers confirmed so far include Mark Lewis, online director, John Lewis, Andy Harding, executive director, multichannel at House of Fraser, and Jérôme Cochet, senior vice president sales at Zalando. The conference takes the theme of Re-foundation, and will be keynoted by retailers who have led transformation within their business as their product sector or the retail landscape have evolved. Find out more at the conference.

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