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February 07, 2011

French Mobile Operators Launch Mobile Payment Service 'Buyster'
By Gary Kim
Contributing Editor

Starbucks, which recently launched its own mobile payment system, and Isis, the mobile payments joint venture between AT&T, Verizon Wireless (News - Alert) and T-Mobile USA, are some of the recent developments in the U.S. mobile payments space. But there is activity all over the world. 

Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR (News - Alert) have formed a new joint venture company to support mobile payments, working with Atos Worldline. The new "Buyster" service is also backed by major online retailers in France, including Aquarelle, Brandalley, Darty and Rue du Commerce.

Separately, the Karur-based Lakshmi Vilas Bank in India has launched a real-time fund transfer facility using mobile phones. LVB is the first private sector bank in South India to offer this facility, Managing Director and CEO P R Somasundaram says.

India's largest mobile operator, Bharti Airtel (News - Alert), is offering its customers the ability to make payments through mobile phones.

Also, Bharti Airtel customers can deposit cash in their "airtel money" accounts at retail locations, then make payments at retail sites and pay utilities using their mobile phones. The merchants and utilities have to be on the Bharti Airtel network, and be part of the money transfer program. 

PayNearMe, on the other hand, offers a take on mobile payments that is more a “virtual cash” play than anything else, likely to be most successful with consumers who prefer paying cash to third parties, especially when buying online digital goods or making other payments, and do not own or cannot get, credit or debit cards. That could include teenagers and others.

The Buyster service will be offered through the mobile telephony partners, which together account for over 50 million consumers, and Buyster will target the new payment solution at online merchants, making it analogous to PayPal (News - Alert) in that regard. 

Buyster will be available in France in mid-2011. "Over the next five years, we are counting on a share of the mCommerce market representing 10 percent of the turnover for eCommerce with an estimated amount of just over EUR six billion," Buyster CEO Eric Gontier said.

Buyster is expected to support mobile operators' existing remote payment services by addressing the market for online-macro payments, complementing existing "kiosk" offers, which enable goods and digital services to be paid for by adding small amounts directly to the telecom bill.  

The mobile payments space already includes several segments, including online micro-payments, online macro-payments, money transfer, retail payments, general-purpose replacements for credit and debit cards, and captive loyalty programs. 

Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf


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