Mobile banking and payments is attracting a
plethora of technology vendors, among them Postilion which brings a
vast depth of experience in the electronic payments industry.
Mark McMurtrie and Craig Saks of Postilion
provide insight into the company’s integrated approach to the new
payments channel.
Announcements of new entrants into the mobile
banking and payments technology market continue to appear with
bewildering regularity, swelling vendor numbers that already stood
at almost 60 at the start of 2008.
Though many market participants have little
more to offer than the promise of a world-class product this can
certainly not be said of one the more recent new entrants,
Postilion, the self-service banking and payment technology
development division of US-based S1 Corporation.
“We recognised the critical importance of
mobile as a new transaction and payments channel that had to be
integrated into Postilion’s payments switching platform,” Postilion
International marketing director Mark McMurtrie told EPI.
Postilion’s first involvement in mobile banking
and payments began with a co-marketing agreement with South African
mobile technology developer Fundamo four years ago, an alliance
that was upgraded in late-2006 into an original equipment
manufacturer agreement.
More recently Postilion’s involvement in mobile
payments and banking was further entrenched with the announcement
in October 2007 that it had purchased a licence to use Fundamo’s
source code.
In addition, six of Fundamo’s staff transferred
to Postilion. Among them was Craig Saks, a veteran of almost a
decade with Fundamo, who most recently held the position of chief
operating officer. He now holds the position of senior
vice-president, shared services, at Postilion.

Investing heavily in mobile

Saks explained that Postilion’s mobile offering is “tightly
integrated” into its switching platform as an additional payments
channel alongside ATM, POS, internet and interactive voice response

He added that Postilion is “investing very
heavily” in mobile payments and has undertaken considerable
development work to adapt Fundamo’s technology to the requirements
of Postilion’s clients in developed markets.
McMurtrie emphasised that Postilion’s mobile
banking offering is not treated as a separate “island of
technology” but, rather, seen as a key element of a modern payments
architecture based on an integrated multi-channel platform. This
payments hub approach which enables switching between all channels
via a single infrastructure has been central to Postilion’s
strategy for 15 years.
Tight switching integration is a key selling
strength of Postilion’s mobile offering.
“Separate channels are a major headache for
banks to integrate,” stressed McMurtrie.
In Postilion’s sights is its substantial
user-base of over 1,500 customers in 50 countries who use the
vendor’s software to process over 7 billion transactions annually
and drive more than 100,000 ATMs and 500,000 POS devices.
In internet banking, Postilion has a
sig-nificant user base in the US where some 1,200 primarily smaller
banks and credit unions have adopted its internet banking, voice
banking and payments solutions.
With Postilion’s mobile offering, banks’
customers receive a full range of banking and payments services
including inter-account transfers, remittances, bill and utility
payments, airtime purchases, balance inquiry, mini-statements,
account administration and card and PIN services.
In addition Postilion’s solution, which uses
Microsoft’s Windows Server and SQL data base management technology,
is mobile handset and communication-technology agnostic, supporting
short message service (SMS), mobile internet browser and SIM
card-based applications.
Primary technologies being focused on in
Postilion’s offering are SMS and mobile internet, said Saks.
However, he noted that SMS alone is regarded as offering inadequate
security for payment trans-actions and requires use of a PIN code
requested via an interactive voice response mechanism for user
identity confirmation.
Mobile internet, he added, is as secure as
conventional internet banking though the ultimate in mobile
security is attained with encrypted SIM-card based solutions.

Market potential

Saks believes the mobile banking and payments will evolve in two
distinct markets: developing countries, where it has significant
potential to become a mainstream payment solution serving unbanked
or under-banked populations, and developed countries where it will
compete against a wide array of existing payments options.

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In the developed world he continued that in the
US in particular “there is a rush by banks to get something into
the market.” Whether a mobile banking service is deployed by a bank
as a want-to-have or merely because competitors have one, Saks
stressed: “I believe that close to 100 percent of banks in the US
will ultimately be offering a mobile banking service. Banks without
a mobile service will struggle to be seen to have a complete
offering, in the same way they would be regarded as missing a
must-have offering if they did not have internet banking.”
He added that as Bank of America (BofA) has
shown, if positioned properly a mobile banking service can achieve
considerable success. Launched nationally in May 2007, BofA
reported that its mobile service had exceeded the 1 million active
user mark just one year later.
“It has been a spectacular success,” said
In Western Europe, Saks noted that mobile
banking services will also become as necessary for banks to have as
an internet banking service. Again, he believes that virtually all
banks will ultimately have no choice other than to offer a mobile
service if they want to remain competitive.