opinion

A New Way to Pay

Stephen Yagielowicz
Many operators in the adult space are familiar with the rapidly evolving complexities and continually changing options within the billing game. Sometimes these issues surround new regulations, while other times they involve new opportunities for profit.

Such is the case with the attack on MasterCard and Visa's billing market domination, now being conducted by telecom giants AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, which are developing a contactless, Smartphone-based retail payment system that is intended to replace traditional credit and debit card use.

Bloomberg reports that Atlanta and several other U.S. cities will host the initial trial of the m-payment solution, in cooperation with Discover Financial Services, which will provide the payment-processing infrastructure; and Barclays, tasked with managing the accounts.

"This is definitely a game-changer," Richard Crone of Crone Consulting stated, saying how the wireless carriers "are the biggest recurring billers in every market."

"They are experts at processing payments," Crone added.

Crone notes that wireless carriers enjoy advantages over the card associations, which could allow them to take control of the U.S. payments market from Visa and MasterCard.

"A mobile device is online, real-time interactivity that changes the customer relationship," Crone concluded. "A card is dumb."

For its part, Visa wants to be a part of the mobile payments loop, despite the major carriers' seeming focus on going it alone and not sharing the pie with the billing giant.

"Visa is in discussions with a number of mobile operators around the world," Bill Gajda of Visa Mobile stated. "We continue to believe that the best opportunity to create a secure, scalable, mobile-payment service is by working together, converging mobile and financial networks, and extending the value of electronic payments to the mobile channel."

Competition, especially within the world of financial services, is a good thing and may make it easier for adult merchants to enjoy access to these developing technologies.

Regardless of the final applications, however, it is clear that the streamlining of all forms of payment systems is continuing; with innovative tools and simple ease of use. Concerns over security, anti-trust issues and competitive grandstanding may hamper the swift adoption of Smartphone "wave" payment processing, but this and other forms of mobile billing are rapidly coming our way — who will provide these services is the only remaining question…