AT&T: mobilise with value, the usage will increase

Thursday 11 November 2010 | 11:14 CET | Background

AT&T's Advanced Enterprise Mobility Solutions business unit focuses on enhancing mobility solutions for its customers. They believe that by mobilising a service or product, usage will increase. Mobile payments are part of the services AT&T can offer their business clients. According to AT&T businesses can expand their services by offering mobile money.

At the recent Sibos conference in Amsterdam Telecompaper spoke with AT&T’s vice president of Advanced Enterprise Mobility Solutions, Mr. Abhi Ingle, about AT&T’s offerings for customers who want to mobilise their business processes. Offering mobile payments is one of the solutions AT&T can offer, together with M2M and location based services.
AT&T is one of the largest telecom operators in the United States and its mission is to connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work. AT&T set up a separate unit to work on Advanced Enterprise Mobility Solutions, because AT&T as a whole is too big to work quickly in this area where much innovation is taking place. Mr. Ingle’s unit covers all industries such as banking, consumer goods, healthcare, manufacturing and utilities. They aim to help the customer to mobilise everything. They look at the customer's business process and see what can be mobilised with value. A mobile phone is now so important in people's daily lives that the consumer expects other products to become mobile as well, so according to Mr Ingle, when you mobilise a product, the usage goes up and penetration gets deeper.

An example of one the products they developed is a product for financial services companies to improve fraud reduction. If a wallet is stolen and then money taken out abroad, it becomes very expensive for banks to deal with. So AT&T has developed a cross carrier solution with location service where a credit card has to be located within the proximity of a customer's mobile phone.
They have also developed mobile apps for trading online, to allow the company to develop closer relationships with their customers. AT&T has 4000 employees working on security so for any of the mobilised services, security is provided by AT&T as part of the solution, whether it is a mobile, vpn or cloud solution.

Regarding mobile banking and mobile payment, AT&T has looked at SME merchants such as plumbers and home decorators. They used mostly cash. AT&T partnered with Apriva to change using cash to using digital/mobile payments.
The deal with Apriva allows vendors with smartphones to take credit and debit card payments on the go. This mobile payment processing service allows AT&T to compete with challengers who mainly focus on Apple’s devices such as the iPhone. However many small merchants do no currently have an iPhone, which gives AT&T a leading edge with a large group of mobile vendors. AT&T also partners with banks as mobile is not just a new channel, it will also change how new generations will use the banking system in the future.

Mr Ingle is convinced that consumers globally want mobile payments. He said that a bank in Australia found that 40% of its mobile banking customer did NOT previously use online banking, so they are new users. One of AT&T’s clients, , a research and advisory firm, has 70% of its customers who want mobile banking. Smartphones now account for 50% of phones in the US, and smartphones change consumer behaviour as it increases usage of mobile services. On top of that in the USA 25% of consumers have only a mobile (and no fixed telephone anymore) and so they may be more inclined to use mobile banking.

Once mobile payments have become part of daily life, then the consumer will be willing to pay for eg a Paypal fee as they won't want to leave their current online or mobile environment to go to their bank's website to pay for goods. That way business can expand their services with mobile money.
Mr Ingle believes that the overall pie of mobile payments revenues will increase and that both banks and carriers can take a part of that growing pie.

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