[Dave Birch] Excellent, another excuse to mention the brightest star in the heavens that are the world of association football. Manchester City “might” extend their farsighted experiment with NFC phones from simple entry through turnstiles to enabling fans to buy food and other goods at half time, as well as making it easy to offer loyalty discounts to regular match-goers. Fans will be able to swipe their mobile phone at dedicated terminals or readers to make payments, in the same way that contactless cards are already being used for payments and in other contexts, like travel. Forum friend Duncan Martin, head of retail for The Blues, highlights one of the key advantages retailers get by persuading customers to use contactless payment technology instead of cash:

By linking this technology to our customer database, we will use this trial data to analyse customer demand, create more targeted campaigns for our most loyal fans and tackle wider issues such as ticket touting and crowd security. The net result will be a much richer matchday experience.

This illustrates a general point: shifting from cash to “cards” ought to provide merchants with valuable information. Incidentally, I read today that revised forecasts from Juniper Research now predict 52 million consumers will adopt new mobile technologies such as NFC and other physical mobile payment methods to pay for everyday goods and services by 2011. They also estimate that by 2011, around 12% of the total mobile phones in circulation will offer support for NFC payments (nearly half-a-billion handsets worldwide).

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These revised forecasts also serve to remind us that the battle between banks and mobile operators is far from over. They’d been out playing football between the trenches recently, but the operators came out all guns blazing at a U.S. event about mobile marketing. Chris Black, a director at AT&T Mobility, said with admirable clarity:

I think as a carrier we have always taken the approach that we add a significant portion of value to the whole [mobile marketing] process… We are going to do whatever it takes to hold onto that value when it comes to things like mobile banking and mobile marketing.

I can understand that point of view, because the alternative is to accept that you are basically just a pipe, a utility carrier of bits. Now this may well actually be true in the long run, but if I were an operator I’d do my best to stave the day off as long as possible, perhaps by reconstituting myself as a utility provider of services rather than raw bits. By services, in this case, I naturally mean component digital money and digital identity services rather than the branded payment and authentication services that will be used by consumers and businesses. So, the operator provides the PKI, the brands provide the virtual identities.

The title of the post, by the way? Manchester City’s latin motto: superbia in proelio.

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

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