MWC 2012: B2B market fast mobile payments adopter

mobile payments

Mobile payments are one of the hot topics at this year's Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, but it seems businesses, rather than consumers, are being the first to get on board.

This was the claim made by Don Callahan, chief operations and technology officer at Citigroup. During his keynote presentation, the financial executive claimed mobile payments in the B2B sector had reached almost $400 trillion thanks to his firm's focus on corporate concerns.

"Consumers may be hesitant, but in B2B, where we are very focused on the corporate side, the necessary security, the rapid deployment of solutions... the take up is very quick," said Callahan.

He claimed Moore's Law was "running faster than ever" with his industry and innovation was happening at every turn, but financial institutions still needed to drill down and address users' concerns to move forward.

"We are beyond the beginning [of this technology] and perhaps this could be the year [of mobile payments], but I am not sure," added Callahan.

"We need to find the friction points for our customers that are stopping [them adopting] and work them through."

Michael Abbott, chief executive (CEO) of ISIS - a mobile wallet offering produced by three of the US' leading mobile operators - claimed the world was taking part in a revolution towards mobile payments, but agreed with Callahan that certain areas needed to be addressed.

"[A user's] mobile wallet will be a treasure trove of personal information, but this is one wallet we don't want to be picked or the revolution will be over before it starts," he said. "Security must be [top of the agenda]."

However, Abbott didn't believe one company could do this alone.

"We will need a certain set of standards," he added, "but this will take a lot of collaborating from a number of organisations who currently spend a lot more time competing than cooperating."

But John Partridge, president of Visa, wanted to remind people what the end result of mass adoption of mobile payments could lead to.

"The work we will do will make it possible for people born within the next five years to never have a physical wallet," he said.

"They will store finances in virtual environments, they will shop online... some may rarely enter a physical store and this is something that wasn't imagined a few years ago."

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.