Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Simpay Goes Live

I like to think of this as PayPal, only mobile.

From Contactless Simpay brings mobile payments to 70 million users in 20 countries .

Payment by cell phone is about to get a big boost from an association of Europe's largest mobile phone operators. In February, after two years of testing, Simpay announced specific launch dates for its payment product.

"Simpay launches in Spain in Quarter Two of this year, and in Belgium and the UK by Quarter 4, 2005," said Jim Wadsworth, Simpay's chief marketing officer. Further announcements are expected later this year for launches in other European counties in 2006.

Simpay is the branded name of the Mobile Payments Services Association, a nonprofit association created in 2003 and located in London. Its four founding members -- Orange, Telefónica Móviles, T-Mobile and Vodafone -- represent some 300 million customers. This year, two other companies joined Simpay: Amena, serving 9 million Spanish subscribers, and Proximus, which services 99% of the Belgian population.

The overall objective of Simpay is to create an open and interoperable framework for mobile payments. Its aim is to deliver an open, commonly branded solution for payments via mobile phones. With the February 2005 addition of these new operators Simpay now has members in 20 European countries.

According to the company, Simpay will allow, for example, an Orange subscriber from the UK to buy content from any participating merchant and have the payment show on his or her Orange account. The merchant could be based in Spain, and need not have a commercial relationship with Orange. Similarly the merchant in Spain, via a single commercial deal and technical interface with a single Simpay mobile operator, will be able to transact with every consumer of every operator participating in Simpay, says the company

Is Simpay destined to become the de facto standard for mobile payments? Said Mr. Wadsworth: "Simpay will co-exist with other payment solutions; we do not require exclusivity so member operators will continue to use their own payment solution, pSMS etc., when appropriate. Simpay does aim to become the de facto standard for payments for digital content on the mobile Internet -- and the first interoperable, borderless system in the world."

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