Philippines carrier links cash card to phone

Smart Communications in the Philippines has launched a reloadable electronic cash card that works in tandem with its GSM cellular phones, aiming to increase mobile and e-commerce in the country.

          Smart Communications in the Philippines has launched a reloadable electronic cash card that works in tandem with its GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) cellular phones, aiming to increase mobile and electronic commerce in the country.

          "This e-cash card will boost e-commerce as well as m-commerce, since it will provide a secure and convenient electronic payment system for Filipino consumers," says Napoleon L Nazareno, president and CEO of Smart, adding that the lack of a secure e-payment system is hindering the growth of local m-commerce and e-commerce.

          Called "Smart Money", the new product is a reloadable cash card that is linked to a mobile phone and offers consumers the option of paying for their purchases via electronic means.

          It was developed in partnership with Metro Pacific affiliate 1st e-Bank and MasterCard, one of the world's leading payment services providers. "We see this partnership as a completion of the three major pillars of mobile commerce -- mobile access to source of money, a place to store money, and accepted places to use it," says Carlos A Pedrosa, president of 1st e-Bank.

          Under the alliance, Smart has provided the enabling technologies -- namely its GSM cellular network and its mobile banking infrastructure -- to make the product available to its large and growing base of GSM subscribers.

          MasterCard, on the other hand, will ensure that Smart Money will be widely accepted by merchants through its global payments service system, while 1st e-Bank will be one of the card's issuer banks. "We developed the proprietary payment system which will ride on the network of MasterCard," says Dan C Ibarra, Smart Mobile Commerce senior vice president for Consumer Business.

          Nazareno says that Smart has invested about 280 million pesos ($US5.6 million) in the new product, the bulk of which went mainly to the development of the payment system. "We've also spent for peripheral systems, interface of SIM (Subscriber Information Module) code kit, as well as our customer profiling system to manage our Smart Money cardholders," he says.

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