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Mobile technology “must provide benefit”, says VISA Europe

The mobile wallet is gaining ground in Italy

The mobile wallet is gaining ground in ItalyMobile banking solutions must provide immediate benefits if they are to become successful – including the ability to complete a purchase in one click, support for contactless payment, and the ability to make small payments, according to senior market participants at the SIA Expo in Milan last week.

“In technology terms, the mobile wallet is no longer and obstacle,” said Davide Steffanini, general manager Italy, Visa Europe. “Other issues are holding us back. We must accept one-click mobile wallet payments with no entering of details. With VISA you can pay even below €5. If we can get the big retailers and merchants on board, everyone else will follow.”

Italy’s mobile payments industry is already picking up – some 19 per cent of Italians cite mobile as their preferred method of paying for goods and services, according to research by ISPO Ricerche. Users were often young (39 per cent were aged 18-24 years), well-educated (37 per cent had a university degree) and successful (32 per cent were managers and entrepreneurs). But other panellists at the event held on Monday and Tuesday stressed the opportunities provided by NFC technology to prompt greater adoption of electronic mobile payments.

“We think contactless technology is the most important development in this space,” said Luciano Cavazzana, managing director Italy and central Europe at payment services company Ingenico. “We have agreed with MasterCard to accept mobile PIN. Already, Milan’s parking machines accept contactless payment, as do two of Italy’s private rail companies. We are ready for the future.”

Other statistics suggest that both online payments and contactless NFC payment are gaining in popularity in the country. Some 55 per cent of retailers will invest in online payments technology and 45 per cent in contactless NFC within the next 12 months, according to the ISPO research. In the city of Florence in Toscana, an estimated 12 per cent of bus tickets are already purchased on mobile devices, while train company Nuovo Transporto Viaggiatori, a private company that operates high-speed trains in Italy, runs an online ticketing service that now accounts for the majority of its sales.

Cavazzana estimates that by the first quarter of 2013, some 14,000 tobacconists will use contactless technology. By next year’s end, he says that Italy will have 150,000 contactless payment outlets in total.

While merchants are sometimes reluctant to adopt mobile and contactless technology due to perceived high installation costs, Alessandro Perego, co-director of the ICT and management observatories, school of management, Politecnico di Milano, suggested that creating value by connecting mobile payments with other services and discounts could help the technology gain momentum.

“We need to make merchants understand the value of the mobile payment, and industry participants should collaborate to ensure that the technology achieves circularity, so that customers can go to almost any store or any website and use their mobile device to make a payment,” he said.

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