Addressing the topic of credit-worthiness, a Cambridge, MA company called Cignifi aims to help banks meet the needs of the 2.7 billion such people worldwide by offering credit and marketing scores for consumers using just mobile phone behavior data. Developed with the help of behavioral mathematicians, it assess credit risk using as little as four weeks calling history.
In 2012, people spent $25 billion on purchases made from phones and tablets, an increase of 81 percent from the year before, according to eMarketer, which compiles data from 120 sources that track commerce. Bits reports.
That is still a minority of total e-commerce sales. Mobile accounted for just 11 percent of e-commerce and is expected to reach 15 percent this year. But eMarketer predicts that by 2016, mobile will be $87 billion, or a quarter of all e-commerce.
According to The Economic Times, a placement agency in Japan is using phone handsets' global positioning system to quickly match workers to temporary jobs, doing away with interviews and other formalities.
The service provided by Tokyo-based firm LocationValue was launched in 2006. Job applicants are to send the company their resumes and make requests about the times of the day and workplaces where they want to work, the Kyodo news agency reported.
The firm locates the applicants, using the global positioning systems built into their cellphones and promptly contacts prospective employers.
Employers can view applicants' track records of work performances on LocationValue's phone site and dispense with face-to-face job interviews before landing capable workers.
At present, an estimated 320,000 workers are registered with the company's service.
In developing countries, where large numbers of people donít even have access to electricity, much less the Internet, ecommerce is something of a challenge.
SlimTrader allows consumers to shop for goods and services via text messages (SMS). According to CEO, Femi Akinde, who was just selected as a TEDGlobal fellow, itís the first platform in Africa to do so. Africa has more than 300 million mobile phone users. Venture Beat reports.
SlimTrader links directly into the inventory, ordering and payment databases of participating businesses. Users can query the availability of products and make purchases by sending an SMS. Payment is made via mobile money services like M-PESA, Airtel, MTN, Mobile Money and Interswitch. In fact, SlimTrader is part of the next wave of mobile services in developing countries which build on the payment infrastructure created by services like M-PESA.
Customers range from airlines to fertilizer companies. Using Slimtrader a subsistence farmer can search for local suppliers of fertilizer, compare prices and order via SMS.
The number of people using their iPhone, Android or other smart phone to file an insurance claim with The Travelers Cos. more than tripled in the first months of 2011 compared with last year, reports the Hartford Courant.
Travelers launched a free mobile application "Auto Accident Help" for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android phones in early 2010. The number of claims filed tripled in the first four months of 2011 compared with the same period in 2010, according to a Travelers analysis of claims.
Travelers would not disclose the number of claims it received, saying the information is proprietary. But the company did say that 70 percent of claims filed through mobile devices were for auto insurance, 28 percent were for property claim and the other 2 percent were for business insurance property claims and business auto claims.
AmEx is expected to announce on Wednesday that it is the lead investor in a $19 million financing for Payfone Inc., a New York start-up.
"The phone number is the most ubiquitous identification in the world. Using that as a way to check out means it can be used on a global basis," said Rodger Desai, co-founder and chief executive of Payfone.
The deal represents the latest effort for AmEx to position itself for new forms of payment. The company, which built a reputation on exclusivity and is best known for catering to affluent customers, is seeking to ready itself for an anticipated explosion in mobile payments.
AmEx also is seeking to attract younger customers, who ultimately are expected to be more comfortable paying for products with their phones rather than swiping a credit card.
With irregular bank hours, but a high mobile penetration, Afghanistan is, in some ways, ideal for mobile payments, reports MIT's Technology Review. "The gulf between what's there now and what could be there if it is successful is enormous," says Jan Chipchase, executive creative director of global insights at Frog Design and textually favorite.
Similar mobile payment systems have been very successful elsewhere. The first system designed for cash transfer via text messages, called M-PESA, was launched in 2007 by Vodafone and Kenya's telecom provider Safaricom and is used by about 55 percent of Kenya's adult population for paying everything from electricity bills to school fees.
Setting up a system of mobile payments in Afghanistan proved to be especially complicated, according to Chipchase's two-week survey. Sporadic attacks on cell-phone towers by the Taliban have crippled coverage in parts of the country, and the regime has decreed that cell towers be turned off at night.
Another stumbling block is the lack of cash trade in certain parts of the country, where people still trade in commodities such as goats and gold. Many rural Afghans still lack a basic education, limiting their access to the text-based M-Paisa service in Afghanistan, the first country after Kenya to launch this innovative service.
Fotini Christia, a political scientist at MIT, who has studied civil war in Afghanistan, agrees that these issues are real obstacles to M-Paisa. "People still trade in kind, in a week's supply of crops," she says. "If it was to pick up, it's more likely to pick up in urban centers rather than anywhere else."
Although few consumers make purchases using their phones, smartphones are playing a critical role in purchasing decisions, according to a study released by ForSee Results on Monday, titled ęU.S. Explosion in Mobile Retail Provides Huge Opportunity for RetailersĽ.USA Today reports.
The study, which surveyed 10,000 visitors to top e-retailer sites, found that 11% of them made a purchase using their phones this holiday season, compared to only 2% at the same time last year.
Thirty percent of visitors, however, used their phones to compare product details, look up prices, or find store locations. In 2009, only 11% of consumers surveyed said they used their phones to do this kind of research.
Mobile's role in retail today has many parallels to the Internet's role in retail when online shopping was in its infancy. About three years after Amazon (1995) and eBay (1996) launched, estimated online sales totaled $6.1 billion ó only 0.2% of total retail Ė according to a Gartner Survey quoted in a Time Magazine cover story that ran that year.
As the study suggests is the case with mobile users, many Internet users started making relationships with retailers online long before they purchased from them there.
The future looks similarly bright for mobile shopping. eBay reported that mobile shopping on its app increased 134% this holiday season, and Amazon is bringing in $1 billion annually from mobile sales.
A report by ABI Research found that mobile online shopping in the United States rose from $396 million in 2008 to $1.2 billion in 2009. The same survey predicted that mobile would bring in $119 billion by 2015.
Google Inc. Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said Monday that the smart phone will eventually supplant the credit card - and showed off just the handset that could do it. . The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
During an interview at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, he took out what he called the "unannounced device I carry around with me" onstage and demonstrated its ability to use Near Field Communication. The wireless standard allows consumers to make a payment, or accomplish other tasks, by waving a device over an electronic reader.
Google, of course, isn't alone in pursuing the mobile-payment market.
Apple Inc., maker of the popular iPhone, is also believed to be working on so-called contactless payment technology for coming mobile devices.
Beginning later this month, ReplyBuy Inc. will offer services for retailers and consumers that create access to limited daily deals via text messages, which can be used to instantly make a purchase. Internet Retailer reports.
Deals on Demand, will enable retailers to run limited daily deals for an individual product via text message. The deal is good for 24 hours or until the product sells out.
Retailer customers that have opted in to ReplyBuy and set up an account with default shipping and payment information need only send one text message in reply to the texted offer.
Rite Aid customers who opt in to the pharmacy alerts system will receive text message notifications when their prescriptions are ready to be collected, as well as refill and will-call reminders and other status changes.
The group argues that while mobile payments backed by credit card may be protected under existing legislation, payments charged to phone bills or pre-paid deposits required for mobile commerce by some phone companies may receive no protection at all.
TechCrunch reports on a companiy which allows users to charge a payment to a landline bill as opposed to a cell phone bill.
Mobile payments company mopay is launching a new technology, mopay call, that allows online merchants to allow consumer to bill purchases to their land line phone accounts.
Like competitors Zong and Boku, mopayís platform doesnít require users to have a credit card or bank account to make a micropayment. Users enter their cell phone number, reply to a text message and then all virtual charges are automatically charged to the userís monthly cell phone bill.
The massive earthquake in Haiti in January destroyed a third or more of the country's banks and ATMs, but even before the quake fewer than 1 in 10 Haitians had ever used a traditional bank. News.com reports.
Aiming to broaden access to financial institutions and aid in the recovery, the Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development announced Tuesday a plan to back up to $10 million in funding to spur the use of cell phone banking, an approach that has worked elsewhere to bring financing to the poor.
... The fund will offer cash awards to companies that build mobile financial services in Haiti, giving $2.5 million to the first country that launches a mobile banking service in the next six months and hits certain goals.
The program's backers hope that, in the short term, mobile banking will make it easier to distribute humanitarian aid, including various cash-for-work programs. Over time, the hope is that a mobile banking system will leave Haitians with broad access to savings and other financial services that were not widely available before the quake.
MasterCard said today it will let third-party developers tap into its payment systems, so they can be used for online or mobile applications. By opening up its services, the credit card company becomes more competitive in the next generation of platforms, which are the target of more than a dozen or so start-ups that have raised millions of dollars to make paying by cell phone more ubiquitous.
BulkSMS, a leading wireless application service provider offering bulk text messaging solutions, has published insight on how text messaging is being used commercially
-- Promotional campaigns using text messaging aim at providing an immediate and interactive experience with a brand via a consumer's mobile phone. Contests, voting line, customer satisfaction research, or in-store campaign is used to attract customers' attention.
-- Scheduling appointments - Text messaging is increasingly becoming the standard way of confirming appointments and sending out appointment reminders a day ahead of a scheduled appointment.
-- Promoting properties - Estate agents use text messaging as a convenient way to communicate with prospective buyers by sending them information about a new property on the market.
Visa and DeviceFidelity have developed a protective case for the iPhone that will enable users "to make payments by simply waving their iPhone in front of a contactless payment terminal, " reports Near Field Communications World. The product has been certified by Apple and works with both iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G devices.
The findings of a newly released report by the firm showed that the relationship between money and mobile devices varies widely from one part of the world to another.
-- Mobile banking grew significantly in India, while Africa, Latin America and some other parts of the world appeared ready to bypass banking altogether in favor of payments handled by mobile operators, according to ABI.
-- Mobile commerce grew far faster in the U.S. than worldwide last year, vaulting from US$396 million in 2008 to an estimated $1.2 billion in 2009, analyst Mark Beccue said. That was nearly 1 percent of all online commerce, he said.
-- Shopping on the mobile Web has become especially popular in North America, though in Japan, it already accounts for about 20 percent of online purchases.
-- Meanwhile, the number of U.S. consumers using mobile banking more than doubled in 2009, from 4 million to 10 million.
-- U.S. banks are starting to treat mobile as more than an extension of Web-based banking, with tools such as SMS.
-- Worldwide, the number of mobile-banking users grew from 24.4 million in 2008 to 52.1 million in 2009. Half of those users were in the Asia-Pacific region.
-- The number of people using point-to-point payment systems worldwide (like M-Pesa) roughly doubled last year, from 27.6 million in 2008 to 55.4 million in 2009, according to ABI.
Mobile phone operator Vodafone has launched what it says is the "lowest-cost mobile phone on Earth", selling "below $15" (£10) and aimed at the developing world. The BBC reports.
It will initially be launched in India, Turkey and eight African countries including Lesotho, Kenya and Ghana.
... The handset allows voice calls, SMS and has built-in support for mobile payment services. A more expensive version - known as the Vodafone 250 - also has a colour screen and an FM radio, and will sell for $20.
Ken Banks, founder of Frontline SMS and an expert in mobile phone use in the developing world said the $15 price tag "lowers the bar, but not by a huge amount". "I bought a HTC mobile in Uganda two years ago for just over $20 equivalent, so depending on how you play exchange rates this isn't hugely different price wise," he told BBC News.
Clickatell CEO Pieter de Villiers Shares US Mobile Market Predictions and Views.
In less than a decade, mobility has gone from a mere convenience to an absolute must-have, both in the US and globally. In the US, mobility is most commonly used for social connections, and is gaining momentum for high value transactions and mobile services such as banking, healthcare, government, and more, albeit on a slower scale, especially when compared to other, developing regions around the world. In Afghanistan, small business owners absolutely depend on mobility to bank; in South Africa, people use their mobile phone to purchase insurance; in India, farmers are using SMS to track crop prices; in Iraq people are "listening" in to President Obama's historic speeches. These are just a few examples, and testimony to the wide selection of life-changing and awe-inspiring necessities using the simplicity and mass ubiquity of mobile text messaging, especially when looking at underdeveloped and developing regions.
Today, there are roughly 4 mobile phone users world wide for every 1 computer user. When looking at the numbers, it is clear that SMS is still the widest reaching communications tool available today:
-- 4 billion mobile SMS users, globally
-- 10 million iPhones shipped, globally, in '08
-- 3 billion Nokia phones shipped, globally, in '08
-- 150 million Facebook users
-- 45 million LinkedIn users
... We believe that in 2010, US markets will continue to embrace the mobile phone as a 'mobile Internet device,' rather than placing the mobile phone in its own unique category, with the ability to reach billions of people who are not already connected to the Internet (or who may not own a PC, or even a television). We expect even more exclusive deals between mobile manufacturers, carriers and content providers as they move towards monetising the 'Mobile Internet.' And, as always, there will be winners, losers and more surprises.
We expect US businesses to take a closer look at their peers abroad and notice the mobile successes in banking, healthcare, retail and social media specifically, focused on advancing mobile "touch" points by innovating and making it easier to communicate and transact with customers.
A recent Motorola study of holiday shoppers identified that more than half (51 percent) of consumers across 11 countries used their mobile phones for in-store activities such as comparison shopping and getting peer feedback, product information and coupons.
Passengers flying to America from London's Heathrow Saturday praised British Airways for ensuring they were not adversely affected by a step-up in airport security following the terror alert. The Daily Mail reports.
People boarding flights to the US this morning were sent text messages ahead of travel warning them the hand baggage allowance had been reduced to one item.
With IPX, when customers encounter a paywall, they enter their mobile phone number on the web page and are sent an SMS text message with a four-digit PIN code. The PIN fee is taken from users' mobile carrier bill and, when entered back on the web page, gives them either one-off access to individual articles or longer-term access as part of a subscription deal.
There's no pre-registration of banking details or anything, the only information you need to give is your mobile number.
Swiss daily Le Temps used a similar system for years. It was just great, fast and efficient.
Business Week has a lengthy report on mobile commerce and how it's gaining momentum, as consumers get comfortable with ordering all sorts of products by cell phone and companies such as Papa John's watch sales climb.
... In mid-2008, Papa John's International pizza chain began letting customers order food and drinks on a Web site tailored to a cell phone's small screen. By December, customers had used their cell phones to order $1 million in Papa John's products. Papa John's says mobile sales now are rising at an annual tenfold pace.
Amazon launched a new service yesterdaywhich brings the company's payment processing tools to mobile devices. ReadWriteWeb reports.
Called the "Amazon Mobile Payments Service," the technology includes a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) for mobile developers which will allow them to provide payment options to their customers within mobile websites and mobile applications.
The new service also allows for integration of Amazon's "1-Click" checkout, the feature that lets customers make purchases using their credit card information stored within their Amazon.com accounts.