MOBILES and the internet have already made banking more convenient. While developments in this area continue, standardisation can significantly help to extend the scope of available mobile payment services and increase their usage by all parties involved. Earlier this year Slovak banks agreed upon a standardised QR code and it is expected that NFC technology will mark a further step towards turning mobile phones into fully-fledged payment devices.
Mobile operators, banks and other market players welcome standardisation.
“Each standard in such a field brings development and increases in usage,” Martin Vidan, Slovak Telekom spokesperson for corporate affairs, told The Slovak Spectator. “We know this from the field of so-called micro-payments via mobile phones, where a certain standardisation has already taken place.”
Orange Slovensko believes that standardisation will allow for faster and wider acceptance of the solution by clients, as well as faster implementation of the new technology, and it will simultaneously prevent additional costs when adapting the technology in the future in the event that each market player develops its own mobile payment solution, Alexandra Piskunová, spokesperson for Orange Slovensko told The Slovak Spectator.
Standardised QR code
The QR code enables banks’ clients to make payments by using a smart phone to “read” the code on an invoice. Banks are promising to implement a standardised code within the next few months. A precondition for wider usage of this code, called “PAY by square”, is that companies who invoice clients for services rendered start using it as well.
“Banks regularly bring to clients novelties which simplify their lives,” Ladislav Unčovský, executive director of the Slovak Banking Association (SBA) said as quoted in the press release. “The single standard for QR codes will speed up payment, prevent mistakes when transcribing data from invoices and thus make the whole process simpler.”
The QR code, abbreviated from Quick Response Code, is a matrix or two-dimensional bar code. A QR code is read by an imaging device and its data is then extracted from patterns present in both horizontal and vertical components of the image. Today a variety of industries utilise QR codes, for example, for product tracking, item identification, time tracking, document management and marketing purposes.
The QR code “PAY by square” was designed by the company Forsys.
Slovenská Sporiteľňa (SLSP) has been using the standard developed by Forsys since last September.
“Based on our experiences, people like … modern technologies, as they bring a higher [level of] comfort,” said Michal Grajcar, the head of the department of electronic channels and payments at SLSP, adding that operations carried out via internet banking, or parts of services provided by the bank within a package, are cheaper than the same operations when conducted in a bricks-and-mortar bank office.
ČSOB, which promises to implement this by June, has been using its own proprietary code.
“In ČSOB, payment via the QR code has proved [useful] so far for various beneficial actions, when it is possible to send a financial contribution with the help of the QR code,” Zuzana Eliášová, spokesperson for ČSOB, told The Slovak Spectator, adding that the more the bank enables clients to make QR code payments, the more it will motivate companies to generate invoices that support such payments. “The spreading of this possibility depends especially on how fast large companies like telecommunications operators, insurance companies, internet providers or producers of accounting systems implement this standard.”
VÚB bank, which plans to implement the standardised code in the second half of 2013, sees it as another form of cashless payment.
“With regards to the increasing popularity of the QR Code for making payments via mobile phone… our clients also require this service from us,” Alena Walterová, VÚB bank spokesperson, told The Slovak Spectator.
Last year Tatra Banka enabled its clients to settle postal money orders or invoices via a mobile application whereby a scanner reads a bar or a data-matrix code. QR payments are another step in this direction and the bank has observed that its clients are increasingly interested in this service, according to Tatra Banka spokeswoman Marína Smolková.
Direct bank Zuno is contemplating launching the QR code in late 2013, depending on its usage, despite the fact that it has not registered a massive amount of interest from its clients, according to Lukáš Tomis, public relations manager of the bank in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
NFC is coming
Near Field Communication (NFC) is a technology providing wireless communication between electronic devices over a short distance and is expected to move payments made via mobile devices to a higher level. Tatra Banka, in cooperation with the mobile operator Telefónica Slovakia, which provides mobile services under the O2 brand, has already made payments via selected mobiles equipped with NFC technology available and would like to extend the offer to other mobile operators. Other operators see NFC as having good prospects as well.
“NFC technology and all the advantages it brings is in the focus of our interest because it has huge potential,” said Vidan. “But in order for this technology to become available for all, it is necessary to proceed jointly.”
According to Vidan, mobile operators, banks and aggregators like MasterCard or Visa have to agree upon the rules. Retailers have to join as well, and equip their shops with the necessary readers. An inevitable precondition is availability and affordability of mobile phones supporting NFC. Vidan cites Poland as an example that this is possible, adding that Slovakia has also had some positive experiences of such cooperation and synchronisation.
“More than one million people use so-called micro-payments via mobiles [using short text messages or mobile applications] through which they can buy public transport tickets, pay for parking, purchase an insurance policy or do shopping on the internet,” said Vidan, adding that such a number in relation to its population makes Slovakia one of the biggest users in Europe. “Thus we believe that the future of NFC is equally positive and that it will become standard … as soon as possible.”
22. Apr 2013 at 0:00 | Jana Liptáková