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Mobile Banking Vital to The Bahamas
WITH 83 PER CENT of business executives expecting mobile payments to become 'mainstream' within the next four years, a leading accountant yesterday said it was vital for the Bahamas to follow suit and "stay on the cutting edge" to maintain its economic competitiveness. Simon Townend, managing director of KPMG Corporate Finance (Bahamas), whose firm yesterday released the survey of 1,000 global business leader opinions on the growing importance of services such as mobile banking and mobile wallets, said this nation was likely to follow suit "quickly" once the commercial banking industry and its accompanying regulations "all into place". Noting that Cable & Wireless Communications' (CWC) plan for BTC was focused on mobile data and smartphone technology, with a particular emphasis on mobile banking, Mr Townend - who was one of the key advisers/consultants to the Government on the privatisation - said the deal meant the Bahamas would see such technology "sooner".

KPMG's 2011 Mobile Payments Outlook, which surveyed top business executives in the global financial services, technology, telecommunications and retail industries, found that 46 per cent believed mobile payments would become a 'mainstream' form of transaction within two years. "Subject to all the banking elements falling into place, it's going to have to happen quickly," Mr Townend said, "because Bahamians travelling abroad will see this is the way people transact their banking and payments, and say: 'Why can't we do it at home?' "It's important competitively for the Bahamas to be in the right place technologically, and customers - customer demand - will force it to happen....... I think it will become very important if we want to stay on the cutting edge in the Bahamas." While BTC would have no mobile/cellular competition until 2014, Mr Townend suggested it would want to be "ahead of the curve" and waste no time in moving to facilitate mobile payments, given its desire to retain customers when the likes of Digicel and Cable Bahamas arrive. "I think it's fairly early days anywhere in the world, but for the Bahamas you might want to have a chat with CWC," Mr Townend suggested. "I know that for them it was part of their strategy, and was in their business plan. I think they've rolled it out in Panama. "The technology is probably there, more or less. It's a matter of banks and the regulations covering them to allow it to happen." Exchange control might be another factor, and Mr Townend added that "getting the banks to buy into it quickly" was also important. Noting that mobile payments and banking was set to take-off rapidly elsewhere in the world, the KPMG executive added that the Canadian-owned banks - Royal Bank of Canada, CIBC FirstCaribbean and Scotiabank - were likely to move fairly rapidly. Their Bahamian counterparts would also do the same, he suggested, given the level of competition between them.

Mr Townend, though, also suggested it was critical for the Bahamas not to fall behind when it came to leading technologies, pointing out that, for example, debit cards were only now coming into wide use in this nation when they had been present in countries such as the UK for 15 years. BTC's plans to implement a fourth generation (4G) network in this nation over the next year will provide a key backbone for mobile payment facilitation, and Mr Townend said: "I think it's just another one of the things I would hope the Bahamas might see sooner as a result of privatisation. "That's not to say BTC would not have got around to doing it, but with the right partner doing it elsewhere we will be ahead of the curve, not behind it. Once we've got a cellular platform like 4G, you will be able to move things around pretty quickly. That will definitely provide the right backbone for mobile payments in the future.

"It is all linked together. Once you've got the right speed platform, there are a lot of things you can to with it." M-wallet allows mobile devices to be used as a wallet, with account and transaction information stored on the SIM card. M-banking provides direct access to bank services and information via mobile data.

In the KPMG survey, 72 per cent of executives said mobile payments are now or will be reasonably important in the future, with specialist online systems building on its leading position as a payment method, and m-banking and near field communication (NFC) gaining greater traction than today. Some 58 per cent said they have a mobile payments strategy in place.

Another 81 per cent felt convenience/accessibility was the highest attribute of mobile banking services, followed by simplicity/ease of use at 73 per cent; security, at 57 per cent; and low cost, 43 per cent. Mr Townend acknowledged, though, that consumer trust in mobile payments systems and their security was an issue that had to be overcome.


Websoft Written on Thursday, 28 July 2011 11:44 by Websoft

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