WITH Singapore’s efforts to promote payments via mobile phones slow to get off the ground, a local firm is dialling overseas to exploit the market potential of this emerging technology.
Following the success of earlier trials, Cassis International is working with a Malaysian operator on the commercial rollout of its mobile wallet initiative, according to company CEO Chua Thian Yee. This comes on the heels of a similar deployment for Korea’s SK Telecom (stock quote: SKM)in 2007.
The homegrown tech upstart, formed in 2002 by a group of executives from the smartcard industry, plays an integral role in realising the payment promise of near field communication (NFC), the technology that is being used to allow consumers to tap and pay for purchases with their handsets.
This is because Cassis provides the solutions needed to allow financial services players to securely distribute credit-card and other payment applications over the air to NFC-enabled mobile phones. By loading the relevant applications, the phone can be used to pay for everything from train rides to burgers and movie tickets.
Cassis was roped in for all the NFC trials that were sanctioned by Visa International(stock quote: V), and is the only Asian firm on the payment provider’s international mobile payment platform consortium.
Helped by the two overseas projects, the firm is expected to maintain its revenue growth at 30 per cent in 2008, but its big break could come within the next year with more commercial rollouts around the world.
‘2009 will be a big year for us,’ Mr Chua told BizIT in an interview on Tuesday, without disclosing details of the deals in the pipeline.
To tackle its overseas projects, the company currently has a team of 70 staff across Malaysia, China, Korea, France, and its headquarters in Singapore.
While inter-operability and fragmentation issues dogged earlier attempts to promote mobile payments, Mr Chua is confident that the outcome will be different this time around with NFC.
Instead of loading credit-card applications into the chip of a plastic card, the data is instead sent over the cellular network to an NFC handset. There is no need to replace existing payment terminals, Mr Chua stressed.
‘NFC uses a standard that has already been established. It’s not about introducing new equipment but merely using another form factor (the mobile phone instead of a plastic credit card) to pay using the same transaction terminal,’ Mr Chua said.
While telcos in countries such as Japan and Korea have introduced mobile payments, local operators here are just starting to dip their toes into the fledgling technology.
Singapore Telecommunications and its partners Nets and United Overseas Bank are assessing the feasibility of a new coupon redemption feature with NFC-enabled handsets.
Rival StarHub, however, has chosen to join hands with Japanese operator NTT Docomo (stock quote: NTT) to test out the latter’s Osaifu-Keitai mobile wallet platform in Singapore.
Source Business Times 20 Oct 2008