A mobile phone with an electronic wallet inserted begins to make sense of the concept of e-cash.
Logica’s UK director of e-commerce, Andy Tobin, was demonstrating this product to telcos and banks in New Zealand recently as part of a wordwide push by a consortium to drive “mobile phone cash dispensers”. The consortium comprises UK partners Barclaycard and Cellnet, Motorola, De La Rue and Logica, which is providing the server software. Currently, 60,000 customers are participating in a Visa Cash e-cash UK trial in Leeds which has been extended to include the mobile phone concept.
A smart card is inserted into the special mobile phone, which then asks the user to enter the withdrawal required and a bank PIN number for securirty. The e-cash is then deposited on to the card via the digital GSM network and debited from the user’s account, in under a minute. Account balances can also be checked.
The concept of stored value cards has been in existence for many years as a solution to the problems associated with cash handling. But, until now, it’s also meant carrying additional pieces of hardware to act as the electronic wallet. Combining the card and the ubiquitous mobile phone simplifies the process.
But it’s not just ATM services that will be available on phones, Tobin says. Commuters will be able to buy tickets for public transport and have them delivered electronically into their phones. By waving the phone at, say, the ticket barrer at a train platform, they will be able to access the platform.
In New Zealand, Logica has had a low-key presence but a very significant one in the banking sector. Worldwide, the company - which has annual turnover of about $1.5 billion - is a specialist in real time gross settlement (RTGS), which software it is providing to the local banking industry. All payments get routed through settlement request manager (SRM) to the Reserve Bank, which then confirms that the individual bank’s RTGS is good for the money and that the -Reserve Bank doesn’t have to underwrite them.
“We enhanced SRM to meet New Zealand market needs,” says Logica general manager Ewen Ritchie. Ritchie says 80% of Logica’s global business is in banking and finance, telcos and energy and utilities. The latter sector has been the biggest market in New Zealand for the local subsidiary, which provided systems for Emco in the first round of energy deregulation and worked with IBM to estalbish Contact Energy when it was spun off as a separate company from ECNZ.