Ex-M&S chief Sir Stuart Rose’s arrival at the little known Mobile Money Network shows there’s no foregone conclusion as to who will control the m-commerce sector.
Mobile commerce is set to come to the fore in 2011 given O2’s application for an e-money licence (nma 10 February 2011). Rival operator Everything Everywhere is also promising to roll out near-field communications services, which enable mobile payment or marketing services, by pairing with Barclay’s. All this is being facilitated by the mobile industry’s major OS providers, Apple, Google and Nokia, backing mobile payments by including NFC compatibility in their hardware and software.
With such titans of the mobile industry grasping for a share of the fast-emerging m-commerce sector, it’s worth asking how a comparative minnow like Mobile Money Network hopes to survive? A quick conversation with its MD John Milliken, a former O2 employee, demonstrated just where it may prosper. He asserted that consumer demand for the convenience of m-commerce is already here. This is vindicated by a quick search on nma.co.uk, which shows that in recent weeks forward-thinking online brands such as ASOS are already clearing over £1m in revenue via mobile (nma 27 January 2011).
Milliken also maintained that restricting m-commerce to a handful of banks and mobile operators would stifle its potential, and that Mobile Money Network’s more open platform gives retailers with a quicker route to market. Sir Stuart Rose’s public statements on m-commerce also spell out the opportunity available for retailers “if they take advantage of [them]” (nma.co.uk 28 March 2011).
Miliken added that while it’s reassuring to see that the behemoths of the mobile industry are making moves to roll out m-commerce, we’re all painfully aware of their track record of setbacks when it comes to cross-industry collaboration.
All this suggests to me that Mobile Money Network’s comparative lack of scale could be used to its advantage. No doubt, Sir Stuart will be dusting off his contact book to convince the UK’s leading retailers likewise.