Archive for paypal

Integrated transaction platforms

Posted in General, Innovation, technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2010 by newideasconsult

With online technology developing quite aggressively we have an ideal opportunity to design and commission all-inclusive solutions for enterprise clients. You can also define this as multi level x-commerce solutions, where the traditional x-store or x-mall or multi-store customer facing platform is completely integrated with the transaction processing platform.

Having one platform that integrates all the required components for environments with a high volume of transactions to operate with the minimum external assistance makes me quite heady.  For example imagine a system that starts out day one with an integrated eBay, PayPal and Skype module.  Having the time to work out each component’s role with the platform, clearly defining where data can be shared within a common database, and setting out combined parameters for a smooth UI, and so on, could start us off on a whole new path in regards to x-commerce.

There are so many advantages to such an initial integrated model not just from a technology point of view, but also in terms of operations.  One view of a customer, one process to resolve disputes, one fee recipe to determine all revenue contributors in a transaction from end to end, and so on and so on.  Are there examples of such combined and integrated solutions already?


Payments future landscape

Posted in General, Innovation, technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2010 by newideasconsult

These past few months have been rather interesting in terms of the payments industry and the subtle shift in consumer perceptions.  One of the most amusing to me has been the clear lead Paypal has in the e-venture payment space to any other brand, card associations included.  This may not be a good thing in my opinion, but undoubtably it has happened.  Ask any e-venture owner what payment method they will be accepting on their platform or site, and at least 7 out of 10 will tell you Paypal.  Not Visa or Mastercard, but Paypal, regardless the obvious issues around its regulation and the bad risk prevention policies it employs.

This to me indicates a real challenge traditional payment companies may face during the next few years, which is how they can win back the market from ‘upstarts’ such as Paypal, Moneybookers, mobile networks, and the many alternative payment methods in the market today.  With the strength of the Paypal brand on the Internet, and to me this means their brand strength in terms of the Internet savvy generations, as well as the rapidly growing mobile payment services, what will the PCI (payment card industry) founding members (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Diners and JCB) do to retain their brand strength or for some regain their brand strength?  Seems to me that as one accepts virtual payment instruments and mobile phone based solutions as the way forward, it removes or distances the payment methods used from a card, the base tool used in the credit card growth the past 4 decades.  Once NFP, mobile payments, and the next generation of Paypal type solutions have rolled out, the card brand will be completely hidden, and in my view, forgotten in the not-so-distant future.

Still some way to go before we can say goodbye to the plastic card (magstripe and chip), but it seems to me the subtle shift in market direction may just ring in that future much sooner than many may have thought.  Unlike the media industry’s late wake-up to the power of virtual distribution, the card payment industry may just have enough time to learn the new rules of the payments game, and hopefully apply them wisely to retain their future market share and brand strength.  Some may not be able to transition, as the departure from card may be too big a shift in paradigm for them, but those that do would have their years of payments experience married to new tech solutions that could eat the Paypals of the future for breakfast.

Demand driven mobile solutions

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2010 by newideasconsult

One of the issues we see surfacing during an economic drought is the demand test for products and services, especially in the ICT market.  These are the days of tighter budgets that see suppliers of services forced to shut down some services or products because they’re not being used.  Previously generous budgets allowed free reign in launching service after service, and short of our own egoes we were pretty much untethered in terms of what those offerings were.  To be the first with a service tended to be more important at times than giving the customers what they want.  I think today this type of approach has undergone a radical change and we are quickly starting to see a more realistic picture come to the fore in terms of what customers want.  For example, smart phones have changed many things for the consumer and quite often each model’s launch also causes a wave of goodwill that produces the most elaborate of services, supplied by retailers, content providers, and even banks.  Internet banking was slow in its initial uptake by financial insitutions in the late 1990’s early 2000’s, and I often wonder whether that tied to looser purse strings have seen these same companies now rush to launch mobile services to their customers regardless the need for them.

Nowhere can this be seen clearer than with mobile banking, where solutions have popped up from everywhere by everyone and sold as the ultimate customer service by many, including myself.  Mobile applications are definitely growing in demand , but I believe we may be missing some very obvious signs of what the customers actually want or need.  Today’s mobile banking product range reminds me of the Internet boom years, where everyone, regardless of country or creed, are being sold the most fantastic, high end, feature rich applications you can dream of, from balance enquiries to inter account transfers to P2P payments to 3rd party billing to prepaid MLM sales, and many more.  However the iPhone in the middle of Manhattan delivering the most wonderful financial application to a very appreciative sophisticated market, will fail miserably in Ho Chi Minh City, where an equally sophisticated market would be utterly frustrated by the same application.  A Blackberry service in Johannesburg is equally fantastic in bringing the world to its user, but fails fantastically to do the same for the farmer in Kimberley.  Yet we find that corporations behind these applications keep trying to sell them to everyone, from the East to the West, from the businessman in London to the farmer in Philipines, and time and again they fail to satisfy their customers or revoke the service completely.

Two reasons that jump to mind would be the wrong product for the wrong market, and the other a very crowded market place.  I have had some interesting chats with fellow technologists about mobile applications that may work in one country, but will suffer in another.  Person to Person payments must be one such an example, with the negative press recently caused by Citi Bank’s decision to shelve their P2P mobile service last December, causing quite a few hot debates.  P2PP works, just not in the USA right now and where it does it is not yet profitable and won’t be for some years to come.  Americans (and Westerners in general) have choice, and lots of it, and so thinking that they will rush to their phones to start transferring funds from one to the other, when they have many services in the market already enabling such a transaction, services that are known and trusted by those who would use P2P payments, was ridiculous.  Forcing those same parties (or at least one) to have a Citi bank account to enable the use the service was even crazier and showed a lack of understanding the P2PP early adopters market.  Another reason would be that a crowded market can often delay the take up of a new format of an old offering, which is exactly what mobile phones offer.

P2PP on the mobile platform works fantastically well in a 3rd world environment, minus a lot of Western bells and whistles though.  Banking applications in Vietnam or Zambia or South Africa or where ever, are often so basic in their format that the Western market would scoff at it, but they work and their use is growing rapidly.  This is because they offer their customers just what they need, a quick no-pains way to send money to someone.  They work because quite often they are the ONLY service available to the consumers in these regions that offer such a facility.   They work because they are almost always designed to work on any Java enabled phone, even the most basic models.  SMS banking too is similar in its acceptance in these regions because again it is an unsophisticated service that does what it says it can, and is easy to use.  Again no need for high end smart phones or changes to customer practices.  Mobile phone users can SMS, most do, and basing such a service on this most basic of mobile skills, makes a lot of sense to do.

For me and others in the industry, the mobile phone offers only another channel for the consumer to transact and access their accounts with, nothing more. Mobile applications too are for global markets what horses are for courses, to each its own.  You cannot apply a universal approach in product or service design to the mobile channel, and you cannot launch such services globally simply because it is fashionable in one city, country or region.  One of the most important considerations to make as a mobile service application developer is to ensure local representation or experience in the design team or you may miss the mark altogether.  Doing so for each market you enter, may sound like overkill, but could save you considerable losses in the long term.

There is so much more on this topic and my post has already been hacked to pieces to fit, so for now I will lay this issue to rest for some new post in the future.  Your comments though are most welcome and your opinions equally valuable in the debate about what works and why.

Reporting on alternative payment systems

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2010 by newideasconsult

There is a plethora of  articles on the Web announcing new payment methods or convenient ways to pay for services or similar, that often misleads both consumers and retailers into thinking that they are somehow better than the traditional methods like the banking systems, automated clearing houses, and credit card interchanges.  The traditional models of payment are often aged and frustrating, I will give you that, but the new kids on the block are often gungho, inexperienced or plain expensive for little more than a nicer user interface to an existing bank account.

New or alternative payment methods are exciting and I do not wish to detract from them at all.  I love the fact that we can still think innovatively in an industry dominated by regulation and banking or payment monopolies.  What I do not agree with is throwing caution to the wind when informing others of these new services.  Reporting on technology should not be approached in a similar way as reporting on Paris Hilton’s latest handbag for example.  Consumers especially, and retailers too, often get misled by the cheerleading approach many technology writers take these days when writing about the latest and greatest new services.

It really is up to those very journalists to ensure they report in a balanced, clear and transparent manner so that the choices people make based on their article will be at best done with more circumspection that most do today. We live in an age where there are many people who simply follow trends, whether the latest fashion or the newest payment brand, regardless of the risks involved.  We need to bring the reporting standard back to a place where we relate clearly the issues without advertiser bias, without personal preference, without starry eyed language.  Straight up articles written in a clear and concise manner that educates the uninformed about everything pertaining to the latest and greatest service, so that they can make more informed decisions as consumers and retailers in the future.

Update 1: I chose to change the title of this article to avoid confusion about its content. My apologies to anyone who found ‘Alternative Payment Systems’ misleading, and I hope the edited title is found to be more inline with the post itself.

Paypal’s open payment API for developers

Posted in General, technology with tags , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2009 by newideasconsult

Its a busy time for Paypal X Integration Center what with the news of an open payments API doing the rounds. The concept is good and opens the door to 3rd party projects that could expand the system’s use and application significantly. I do believe that this method of collaboration always benefits the customers in the end. Google taking their Checkout product into the community from day one proves the point quite well, as 3rd parties, quite often employed by competitors, rushed to comment on and test the Checkout product for Google, which in turn improved their offering to what it is today. Kudos to Paypal for taking a similar approach!

To apply for the documentation and user access, you will need to visit Paypal’s Developer Central and check it out for yourself after applying to participate. By the way, the site can also be accessed at the very easily remembered URL,