Amdocs and Strex push SMS payments

SMS seems so last decade, but often the simplest technologies provide the easiest solutions. Amdocs has partnered with Norwegian SMS payments outfit Strex to promote this technology and see the rise of mobile wallets from the likes of Apple, Google and Samsung as complementary.

Speaking to at Mobile World Congress 2015 Strex CEO Hege Kosberg explained that her company is a joint venture between the big three Norwegian mobile operators, designed to promote SMS payments,

“In Norway there are around 1.6 million people using SMS-based payment every day,” she said. “Now the JV is moving this business from the operators into the Strex platform, which is provided by Amdocs, and next month we will be launching more functionalities offering bank account and credit card billing as well as the current operator billing model.”

While this sort of thing might seem a bit retrograde as we embark on the mobile wallet era, Kosberg insists there are parts of the market it is ideally suited to. “The target for Strex is remote payments – online or point of sale – when you don’t have a bank terminal, such as vending machines and public transport. It allows you to just put in your phone number instead of a credit card,” said Kosberg.

“The uniqueness is that we have the three biggest operators, which means we have access to more than 90% of the mobile customers in Norway. The difference between us and some of these new mobile wallets is that they don’t have the users at the moment.

“In Norway the banks think cash is going to disappear entirely in the next five years. Our target is for you not to need a terminal to pay, because it’s expensive to invest in. With Strex you just send an SMS to a number to pay and we also have an API that allows it to be integrated into apps.”

Amdocs’s job is to provide the platform for this model. “Amdocs’s role is first that we have the platform and we are working with Strex on the migration, because we are replacing four existing platforms,” said Tal Leider, Director, Amdocs Mobile Financial Services. “I think one of the key differentiators will be the customer experience, especially convenience.”

This seems like a good time to be offering any kind of novel mobile payment technology, with the launch of Apple Pay bound to significantly increase interest in this area. Mobile payments have been technologically viable for some time but has struggled to take off. The reasons for this are cultural as much as anything and once the penny drops for the mass market there should be opportunities for a variety of solutions.

For now Strex is just a Norwegian proposition, but if operators from other countries like the look of what they’re doing, the partnership with Amdocs should allow easy international expansion.

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