The anticipated launch of GSMA Mobile Money Transfer in Q208 could have a major economic impact.
Powered by Western Union, which already processed 17% of world remittance volume in 2006 according to the Financial Times, the scheme is involve 35 mobile operators in 100 countries covering 800m customers.
Your phone will act as a mobile wallet, capable of making payments of up to $100. Domestic and cross border payments will be catered for.
This has been a target for the mobile industry for many years and represents a real threat to traditional banks but more significantly to services like paypal, depending on tariffs. After all, why bother finding a computer when all you need is a ubiquitous phone, now possessed by 3bn people.
This could also have a dramatic impact in physical and online retailing, as firms gear up to accept another payment device.
The worry is that operators will be too greedy with charges – one hopes they will have learnt from their experience overcharging for data plans and the huge use of sms because its cheap.