March 02, 2006

News on payments: mobile/cell, Skype, Google

America moves a bit closer to using cells (mobiles outside the US) for payment. What I find curious is why banks don't simply use their customer's phones as two-factor tokens. It can't be any more sophisticated than selling a ring tone, surely?

Skype signs up with Click&Buy and seemingly others. Again curious, given they are owned by eBay these days.

Google reveals more, as spotted over on PaymentNews. Basically, move the billing systems over to an internal money.

If you take a look at the history of Google's advertising programs and online services, one thing you notice is that online billing and payments have been a core part of our offerings for some time. To run our ad programs, Google receives payments every day from advertisers, and then pays out a portion of those funds to advertising partners. Over the past four years, Google has billed advertisers in 65 countries more than $11.2 billion in 48 currencies, and made payments to advertising partners of more than $3.9 billion. When one of our consumer services requires payment to us, we've also provided users a purchase option.

As the number of Google services has increased, we've continued to build on our core payment features and migrate to a standard process for people to buy our services with a Google Account. Examples of this migration include enabling users to buy Google Video content, Google Earth licenses, and Google Store items with their Google Accounts. We also just began offering similar functionality on Google Base.

If only more companies issued their own internal money and used it for the billing systems. Expect Microsoft to scratch its collective heads and wonder "why didn't we think of that?" It's actually not that much a leap, more a mental twist than a business change. From there, integrating credit card collection is easy. (Credits: I first did this a few years back, but the idea has been around for yonks, I recall Lucky Green explaining it as a potential direction for DigiCash sales, around 1997.)

For buyers, this feature will provide a convenient and secure way to purchase Google Base items by credit card. For sellers, this feature integrates transaction processing with Google Base item management.

And if they do it carefully enough, they won't walk into the minefield of regulatory interference.

The Mountain View, California-based search giant made sure the test got off to a quiet start. Google launched a video store last month, and shoppers found that they could buy videos by signing into their Google accounts. People have also been using their accounts to buy mapping-related products from Google Earth, information on Google Answers, and keywords on AdWords, Google's advertising program, in some cases for more than a year now.

Huh. Scary but true - hype is not the same thing as strategy. We'll see. Elsewhere, Technews says that Google is a direct shot at eBay and Paypal. I agree, it's on the agenda, but it's a shot across the bows, the actual broadsides will come later. Paypal is very vulnerable, Google won't need to rush. Also see lots of screen shots there, and also see buyer's terms.

Posted by iang at March 2, 2006 08:54 AM | TrackBack

Today, I have learnt why banks won't use cellphones the way ringtones are sold. While negotiating with several cellular operators, I have received the detailed protocol description. It's a security inferno. Unfortunately, the stuff is in Hungarian, but otherwise it would definitely merit a few comments on this blog.
The protocol leaves every involved party (except the cellular operator) exposed to fraud. Right now, I am thinking hard how to build something even remotely secure on its basis, but I was deeply disappointed today. No wonder banks are reluctant to deal with this heap of dirty hacks and kludge.

Posted by: Daniel A. Nagy at March 3, 2006 03:31 PM
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