Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Google Checkout for Mobile?

Picking up where the last post left off, the ideal market for mobile payment systems should have three characteristics:
  • Rapidly rising income levels (demand is high)
  • Small internet footprint, and even smaller e-commerce footprint (supply is low)
  • Large mobile penetration (potential is large)
Countries like India and Brazil provide great markets to test products before moving them more broadly to other markets.

The basic requirements for mobile payments systems include:
  • Ease of use. No-hassle account setup and configuration.
  • Wide device support. In developing economies this means not required data-enabled phones to provide the service.
  • Built-in security. Specially important if service is provided on non-data-enabled phones.
  • Flexible payment options. This includes support for different credit/debit cards, links to bank accounts and stored value (pre-paid) options.
  • Localization. Gaining wide user adoption will require localization features, including language support and tie-ins to local payment processing (regional banks, microcredit organizations).
  • Leverage existing infrastructure. Critical to building a large merchant base quickly is to make it as easy as possible for them to accept the new payment form factor using their existing technology investments, where possible.
The key shift is to use mobile payments as a "leapfrog" technology rather than a substitute technology. In other words, move the market from online last-click replacement to physical store retailing, or TV-based retailing.

There are two small entrants into the market, recently VC-funded, that I'm aware of:
  • Paymate: Kleiner Perkins invested $5M. Broad device coverage (works on SMS), but only for Citibank customers.
  • Ji Grahak: Helion Ventures invested $2M. Broad financial institution coverage, but requires a credit card and requires a GPRS java-enabled phone.
How far off do you think Google Checkout for Mobile is? And where do you think they will launch?