Wednesday 2 February 2011

Making small purchases simpler with Ericsson IPX

Yesterday a colleague made me aware of this Ericsson's IPX SMS based payment system that looks like a competitor to the NFC technology and doesn't involve any additional chip/hardware. Here is a video:

From Ericsson's website:

Ericsson Internet Payment Exchange (IPX) is a leading mobile aggregator, providing delivery and billing services, via SMS, MMS, web and online mobile billing, to more than 2 billion mobile subscribers across 26 countries. Ericsson IPX also brokers location information in selected countries and Ericsson IPX Messaging provides reach to 96% of all mobile subscribers worldwide with SMS. Ericsson IPX customers are companies who offer digital content, mobile voting & directory information and enterprises offering mobile marketing, communities and banking.

Now, we all love SMS and we have to admit that its the simplest of technology and even the most primitive phone nowadays support it but there could be scenarios when this can be a bit of a problem:

1. SMS can sometimes be delayed if a particular cell is overloaded, etc. So how long do we have to stand in front of the machine?
2. If say for 2-3 mins we do not receive an indication that the machine has a cash, do we send another SMS to cancel the transaction?
3. If we have a problem, do we have a support number to call to? How much will that cost?
4. If there is a queue of people and someone else wants to purchase something as well, does the next person has to wait till the person before has received the item?
5. If two people have sent an SMS, how do they know whose cash is in the machine now? Do we start putting a Pin as well ?

I agree, this technology could be really useful if you have run out of cash (even if you have NFC chip) and you need to purchase something small.

The other obvious advantage is that you can target advertisement at regular users who are at a particular place at a particular time to make them buy something. Also you can get statistics like what time people tend to purchase, what do they purchase, where, etc.

Anyway, hard for me to see this take off big time.


Somze said...

This is really interesting. I share your concerns about the shortcoming of SMS payment systems but like you suggested, most mobile phones have SMS facility meaning successful implementation of an SMS mobile payment service will attract huge subscriber base. Experience from Kenya's M-PESA says it all. You're doing a good job man.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. There's nothing new or novel here. SMS payment systems have been in active use for at least a decade. Here in Finland you pay Tram tickets, parking meters etc. via SMS daily.

The main problem is the high surcharge the operators want for it so that it isn't being used in micropayments and vending machines where it would be the most useful. Especially in societies like the nordics, where cash is almost never uses (bank cards mainly).

Anonymous said...

Agree with Anonymous 18:48, nothing new and it works fine. I use it for getting access codes, buy bus-ticket, voting etc...