Payments by text message due for UK launch in 2014

January 25, 2012

The BBC has recently reported on an initiative by the Payments Council to launch a service enabling money transfers by mobile phone in 2014. Having developed the M-Pesa mobile payment system for use in the developing world, Sagentia reflects on the challenges of creating a similar system for the UK.

mpea

Mobile payment systems have been tried in developed markets many times before, with limited success. In the UK there are many other ways to make a person to person payment, whereas in Kenya M-PESA was often the only way. It will be interesting to see whether this initiative fares any better and can achieve the critical mass of active users required to become mainstream.

 In the UK there are many other ways to make a person to person payment, whereas in Kenya M-PESA was often the only way.

When Sagentia developed the M-PESA system in Kenya and Tanzania we had to develop the database systems in line with (very rapid) user growth. In the UK you probably don’t have the luxury of this, you have to have the capability for a national scale system available to any bank account holder at launch. This probably explains in part why it’s taking so long to set up this service – when it launches in 2014 M-PESA Kenya will have been operating with over 10 million users for more than 4 years.'

 

Tim Ollerenshaw

Consultant, Innovation & Technology Management
Sagentia

 

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