Todays New Digital Economics Forum was one of those unique events, not quite seminal but for BlueVia certainly significant. In the audience were plenty of senior people and a good mix of financial execs and merchant services (e.g.: banks, visa), telco guys (e.g.: everything everywhere, etisalat) and smaller companies/startups related to payments, retailing and advertising. It was significant because it was one of the first opportunities that the partnership behind BlueVia (Telenor and Telefonica) presented in unity on the topic of charge to mobile.
The format of the day was short presentations followed up by Q&A and then related brainstorming. Rune Slinning (Telenor) and Ricardo Varela (Head of BlueVia) co-presented. Like a tag team, first in the ring was Ricardo telling the story of Bluevia the enabler of the charge to mobile service, highlighting the similarity to visa’s ecosystem but with the global scale far beyond credit cards reach. Rune commented about the advantages of charge to mobile over other payment systems and backed up with some interesting ‘before and after’ implementation data. Probably more importantly they were able to show and compare the payment and checkout experiences of Microsoft and Google’s App stores, something many of the executives have never seen before.
During the Q&A, one of the first questions was “This thing makes so much more sense. Why are not all operators doing this?” An extremely astute gentleman and watch this space for further announcements soon.
There were some questions related to how pricing will compare with credit cards and a discussion around complementing to other mechanisms not competing, both for simplicity or for reach to people without them, and how actually even for card payments you don’t always have price parity (ever paid a ryanair flight with a credit versus debit card? They don’t charge you just the 30 cents of exchange fee, they charge much more!).
Finally there was some group work and polling collating thoughts on the main friction points that needed to be solved e.g. to better enable retailer and content owners to monetize and what roles may operators have on it, or what barriers they need to surpass.
Overall really good questions and lots of interactions with the audience. A great format because it was very conducive to people asking, well done to the organisers and thanks for the invitation.
It’s not everyday you see 2 telco’s singing from the same hymn sheet. The gospel today was from the book of Charge to Mobile and was given by Brothers Rune and Ricardo.