[Dave Birch] The hubs that have emerged in the mobile communications world to clear and settle inter-operator roaming and recharge are starting to add functionality that asks interesting questions. If you look at someone like eServ Global, who have added airtime topup and remittances (the “HomeSend” service) on top of Belgacom’s ICS hubbing business, you can’t help but wonder what the impact of cross-border value transfer might be in the long run. Suppose for example that people in countries where the currency is unstable or prone to inflation because of government “quantitative easing” (eg, Zimbabwe and the UK) decide to use airtime as their preferred currency? Not only would government income be hit but government attempts “manage” the economy would be undermined. I’m not say whether that’s good or bad, just that the connection between mobile resources and financial resources is two-way: just as we could use mobile networks to carry financial data, we could use financial networks to carry to mobile data (in particular, mobile identification and authentication services).

Here’s an interesting confirmation of the importance of the connection between hubs and financial services. Shortly after I wrote the original draft of this post, getting ready to post the competition below,

Visa Inc. and NeuStar today announced a strategic alliance designed to accelerate the adoption of mobile financial services globally.

[From Visa, NeuStar Team to Propel Trusted Mobile Payments and Financial Services Globally]

And you’ll recall that MasterCard has also been active in this area, launching their MoneySend service earlier in year, reflecting I think a general feeling in the financial services world that mobile is gathering steam. It may not yet be the mass market in many markets, but no financial services providers wants to be left behind once the shift comes.

The service, called MoneySend, is a technology collaboration with Obopay, and it lets customers send and receive funds through text messages, mobile browsers, dedicated mobile applications, and a desktop PC.

[From MasterCard Intros Mobile Payment Platform — Mobile Payments — InformationWeek]

This is the sort of thing that will be discussed at Terrapinn’s NFC World Asia conference in Singapore on 15th-17th September 2009. I’ll be there helping to run a masterclass on NFC applications. The masterclass aims to share practical experience and explore lessons from around the world: so if you are developing your organisations strategy for NFC — whether for ticketing and payments or access control and authentication — do come along to the Hyatt Regency Singapore on Tuesday 15th September.

Incidentally, the wonderful people at Terrapinn have given me a two-day delegate pass for this event — worth an astounding THREE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY FIVE Singapore dollars — to give away on this blog as a competition prize. So if you are going to be in Singapore on those dates and you’d like to come along to hear some of the leaders in the field discussing the practical application of NFC in different businesses and share lessons for early deployments around the world, then all you have to do is reply to this thread with the name of the famous Brit who made the first phone call over the Vodafone network in the UK on 1st January 1985.

In the traditional fashion, this competition is open to all except for employees of Consult Hyperion and members of my immediate family, is void where prohibited and recycled where possible. The prize must be claimed within three months. Oh, and no-one can win more than one of the Digital Money Blog prizes per calendar year.

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


  1. I’ll be at SIBOS so I can’t join you at Terrapinn, but you made me look for the Vodafone first caller just out of curiosity. The top hat and caped coat makes it look like the century before the 20th.

  2. We have a winner! It was indeed British national treasure Ernie Wise. Send me your contact details Bing and I will arrange for your delegate place. Congratulations.

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