Paythru provides mobile payments for a range of clients, including charities and local authorities, as well as retailers getting into mobile commerce. 

I've been speaking to Paythru MD Keith Brown about the company, and the challenges of making mobile payments easy for customers. 

When and why did you launch Paythru?

My background is financial services, while my partner Russell is a techie, and we intiially set up the company to solve the problem of how to take payments for insurance premiums via mobiles. 

A large number of under 35s don’t have travel insurance when they go on holiday, and since it’s a commodity product, we saw the opportunity of using mobile to attract this audience.

Having seen the changes brought about by e-commerce platforms to the insurance and financial services market, we saw the same opportunity in mobile. 

The existing payment options were not the best though;  we needed an e-money license, and at the time this was very expensive to get, while the other mechanism for mobile payments was reserve billing. 

We saw that what people needed was a payment system which replicates what people do elsewhere, and that’s what we set out to do. We provide a way for customers to pay on a mobile without having to pre-register, which makes the process smoother for customers. 

Have you take any funding for the business? 

We’ve been working on this for three years, so it has been a slog, but we've raised almost £1m for tech investment over the last 12 months, and we’re starting to see some traction now, and we have a number of clients coming on board in the next few months. 

Who are your typical clients? 

We have been targeting several verticals, including payments for parking services, utility bills and local authority bills, as well as mobile retail payments. 

Our current clients include NSPCC, for whom we handle mobile donations, while we also provide mobile payments for Rangers FC, and have been working Sccope. We have a few announcements coming over the next three months. 

How big an issue is security in mobile payments? 

I think security is a concern to users, and we use this compliance as a way to appeal to customers. 

We achieved PC1 level compliance last year, and we’re the only mobile payment solution to do so, meaning we have the same standard of security as retail banks and card issuers. 

Also, shoppers make a contract with the retailer when they pay using our service, so they are still protected under the Consumer Credit Act. 

What is the key to making mobile payments smooth for customers? 

I think the process has to be invisible to users. We have done some clever things with our technology, but customers cannot see it; every extra step in the process increases friction for customers. 

We have developed a one-click payment system, like Amazon, and consumers can opt to have us hold their card details for future payments to make purchases smoother. 

The easier and smoother card payments are, the more people will shop through their mobiles. 

Most importantly, payment pages and checkouts need to be designed for mobiles. When we build any payment pages, these are all optimized to mobile.

Mobile retail is not exactly the same as e-commerce, and mobile sites need to be adopted to reflect this. For example, it isn't necessary for mobile sites to display all the stock from the main site, it can be better to keep it simple. The way I see it is that mobile commerce is a picnic, while a website is a four course meal. 

We’re moving into a new areas, and retailers have to understand that you can’t just stick a website checkout onto a mobile site and expect it to be OK. Payment pages should match the rest if the mobile site to reduce customer abandonment. 

The challenge is to make it seamless and easy to use for customers. 

Are we reaching a point where mobile commerce will take off? 

Yes, I think we are approaching the tipping point, and I think more and more retailers are picking up on that. They can look at their visitor stats and see an increasing number of visits from mobile devices. 

ASOS, for instance, has 14% of visits through mobiles, and has a site that hasn’t been designed for this purpose. When retailers see the business case for mobile retail, then more and more will become involved. 

Graham Charlton

Published 23 June, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

You might be interested in

Comments (1)


Atara Mordou

Reaching to new Markets by tapping in to Mobile payments Mobile payments are projected to reach US$264.8 billion by the year 2015. Given the fact that approximately four billion mobile phone users exist across the globe with numbers increasing at a faster pace, Sooner or later, a significant chunk of mainstream consumers are going to be making point-of-sale transactions using their mobile phones. The question is who will seize this lucrative opportunity? Who will be the winners and who will be losers? When Westminster City Council implemented a pay by phone parking scheme, they were shocked to find out that at least 75% of all metered parking came from pay-by-phone, up from the anticipated 10% to 15%. One key component to m-commerce's potential success is establishing a comfort factor among consumers when it comes to paying for things with mobile phones. It’s a fact that most customers know their mobile phone number but not their card number. Successful social gaming companies like Zinga who owns Farmville has recognised this and are making a killing out of the social gaming market through mobile payments. Although many SME’s are aware of the benefits of mobile payments at a whole, most are unaware of how each would add value to their individual business models or more over how to successfully implement such a winning strategy. At Waspit, even if it is a multi billion pound brand or a small taxi company, first thing we do is to understand the client’s present model and cater a unique mobile payment solutions for that business. Most SME’s are unclear the about the return versus the investment of implementing such a strategy. Most of the clients who comes to us we offer minimum or no investments (depending on the solution). Not only that, till they achieve their objectives, we will continue to support them. We actively encourage pilot programs and if you think that it is time to jump in to the mobile payment bandwagon or you just want to have understand more about mobile payments then please email the author: Atara Mordou, Account manager –

almost 8 years ago

Save or Cancel

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Digital Pulse newsletter. You will receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.