Friday, January 18, 2008

Use mobile phones to pay bills

Mumbai company is set to roll out a technology which will enable the clients to pay there bills through mobile phones.

Just swipe your mobile phone to purchase things, much like a credit card.

The company has already tied up with Axis Bank for the service and is in the advanced stages of beta testing. The service will be launched at commercial level within three months.

The company behind this novelty is Atom Technologies, a subsidiary of the BSE-listed Financial Technologies (India) Ltd (FTIL), which runs the Multi Commodity Exchange of India.

According to FTIL director (Technology), Dewang Neralla, Atom Technologies’ product — Atom Card — and software can burn the user’s credit card data to a mobile phone, that too over-the-air (like making a call or sending an SMS).

The data will be stored in a 2-D bar code format and even the user will not be able to read the data assuring security in case the handset is lost or stolen. Moreover for making a purchase an authentication — providing the PIN — has to be made.

After the credit card data is loaded on the mobile phone, (irrespective of the operator, but in collaboration with the card-issuing bank) the handset can be used no need of credit cards.

The swiping model, which is termed as optical payment by the company can be done at any merchant establishment that is having the requisite software. The company will upload a 2-D barcode on the phone that can be read by a simple webcam with the necessary software.

Neralla said that Rs 200-webcam is all that is required for reading the 2-D barcode. The company has also received a copyright for this payment mode in the US.

By using the second method i.e. remote location, or over-the-air authentication, the user can use the cards sitting at home or office. In this method, the merchant establishment and the bank are connected over the air and the user will have to approve the purchase. Hitherto, the user will have to authenticate the deal.

The mobile phones having Java platform (a high-end graphic suite), will be able to use this technology and at present, the lowest Java handset available in the market is priced at around Rs 3,000, said Niranjan Gosavi, chief marketing officer, Atom.

He said, Atom will be giving the software free-of-cost to banks, and merchant establishments and customers, will have to levy a percentage of the transactions as its fee.

The company, which is already carrying out a pilot study with 500 customers of Axis Bank, is in the advanced stages of tying with other banks in the country. Atom is also working out on the plan to provide the solution to overseas market and is in talks with international banking majors, he added.

Companies like Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and C-Sam (a firm founded by Sam Pitroda) are also looking at offering mobile commerce solutions.

Earlier C-Sam had launched mobile wallet in Japan and Scandinavian countries, while Airtel and RCom are giving certain wallet services like money transfer, mobile remittance, cheque clearance, ticket booking, among others, over mobile.

Value-added service (VAS) providers like IMImobile and Roamware are into the developing of these kinds of applications.

The companies are waiting for the approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for mobile wallet services.

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