Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Redeemability of e-money of mobile operators

Currently there is a EU consultation on the question if pre-paid funds of the mobile operators can be considered e-money; the equivalent of money, but then in the mobile world. For some years mobile operators acknowledge that it is, but fiercely try to avoid the consequence of all this: regulation as an e-money institution and the obligation to pay back 100% of the pre-paid funds to the consumer (redeemability).

While one year ago the redeemability issue was not yet solved by any player in the market, some independent operators now offer this possibility. So I can actually phone a premium rate service and get a percentage of my own money back. While this demonstrates that these pre-paid funds may be considered money in their own right, the EU might need some more years to draw the same conclusion.

So while the regulatory debate continues, those readers seeking ways to get their pre-paid funds back may revert to these links:
- general explanation (in Dutch) of ways of redemption via mobile billing services,
- sites that offered redemption (but shutdown for unknown reasons...)
* www.cashjebeltegoed.nl
* Beltegoedcashen.nl
* www.cashbeltegoed.nl

So what would be going on here..?

Which shares for mobile phones in NL?

Telecom Paper informs us of market shares in the Dutch mobile industry (which totals 14,9 million customers):
-KPN (38%): 5,77 million customers
-Vodafone (23%): 3,5 million customers
-T-Mobile (15%): 2,2 million customers
-Telfort (11%): 1,6 million customers
-Orange (11%): 1,6 million customers.
I take it Virtual Mobile Network Operators are either aggregated or account for the remainig 2 %(294.000 customers).

People want to pay by phone

This article in the register deals with the question: are consumers happy to use their phones to buy new services?

This question was amongst several issues addressed in a survey commissioned by Qpass, a provider of mobile commerce software used by mobile operators. Respondents overwhelmingly expressed a willingness to use their mobiles as a payment mechanism, with 80 per cent of those surveyed potentially happy to pay for a range of services with their phone.

However, among those who have used phones to make purchases, around 40 per cent of m-commerce transactions experienced errors. This result is also reflected in the thoughts of the providers of mobile content across the EU. When 20 such organisations were questioned, 45 per cent described mobile commerce systems in use today as "poor" while a further 40 per cent depicted them as "inadequate".

Thursday, November 11, 2004

E-bay buys Dutch Marktplaats

E-buy has taken over the Dutch market leader in on-line ads: Marktplaats. See the article and listen to the interviews at Planet Multimedia. Right now E-bay states it will not change the business model. Meaning that payment is not a part of the business at Marktplaats. But some sceptics expect that in the long run a merging of E-bay and Marktplaats will lead to some changes, including the use of Paypal.

Converging technologies and diverging rules

Planet Multimedia reports that Napster, the digital music content provider on the web, is now selling pre-paid cards in UK Post Offices. The cards now lay next to the pre-paid cards of Vodafone and all other mobile players, demonstrating the convergance of business models and technology (when it comes to selling digital content).

The regulatory rules may be different however. In the Netherlands Napster-like organisations would need an e-money license, while the mobile operators don't (as a temporary exemption grantd to them until the EU makes up its mind on the mobile operators as issuers of e-money). In my view the Napster example shows that it makes no sense to maintain a different regulatory playing field for those parts of the business which are essentialy the same.

The future will learn whether we end up lost in the swamp of not-defined or ill-defined exemptions or swimming in the same regulatory pond.

Monday, November 08, 2004

M-commerce Europe: 39,4 billion dollar in 204

Ovum's information on mobile revenue in Europe:
In mobile, voice will constitute around 84% of total service revenues in 2004. Data revenues will grow by 73% from $22.8 billion to $39.4 billion, and will constitute 22% of total wireless service revenues by 2007.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

E-money... what's up?

Planet Multimedia provides an excellent overview (in Dutch) summarizing the replies to the consulation of the European Commission on e-money for mobile operators. The conclusion is that opinions still differ as to the question if pre-paid money, used for payment to others than the mobile operator, qualifies as e-money.

Accidently both KPN and the Mobile Data Association suggest the use of a limit of 102 euro to determine if funds are e-money or not. Hearsay has it that most replies of the mobile operators to the European Commission have similar wording. And none really investigate the consequences of applicability of the e-money directive. All replies still reject the notion that if you present something as money to users, and allow it to be used as such, it might actually be money (to be regulated as such).

Also in the news:
1. Hema, the retail chain, will also start selling its own mobile phone's and mobile numbers. And may thus also be subject to the e-money rules.
2. KPN publishes figures that indicate that the proportion of non-voice revenue is now approximately 10 % (and rising).

Meanwhile regulators are lured into believing the non-voice revenue is non-essential. Well, if that would really be the case, it would make more business sense to get rid of the non-voice business rather than claim that e-money rules are not applicable. Given that none of the operators does so and all fiercely try to steer clear from regulation, my conclusion is that the non-voice revenue is both essential and substantial.

To be continued.....

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