Planet Payment Inc. has launched a merchant pilot of its ShopByVoice mobile-commerce product, according to the United States-based payment processor.

The product enables consumers to make credit card transactions for products offered by participating merchants by calling a toll-free number and vocally verifying their identities, says Marc Reiser, Planet Payment chief marketing officer.

To use the product, merchants vocally enter product and pricing information into a virtual store that consumers access with their mobile devices. "When consumers call in, they can hear products and descriptions and make selections," says Reiser.

Consumers set up accounts that include their personal information and credit card data. Voice biometrics, and not personal identification numbers, secure the accounts. Users enter product codes to select the products they wish to purchase.

When registering, consumers must repeat the phrase "at Planet Payment my voice is my password" three times so the system can create a voice pattern. Consumer also must state the phrase each time they want to access their accounts and make purchases. The voice patterns must match for consumers to gain access to their accounts, says Reiser.

Planet Payment worked with Israel-based PerSay Ltd. to develop the voice-biometric aspect of ShopByVoice, Reiser says. The product is mobile-device and carrier agnostic, and consumers do not have to download software into their mobile devices, he says.

Planet Payment is testing ShopByVoice with small and midsize merchants that operate single-store and multistore locations, says Reiser, declining to reveal which merchants are participating in the pilot. "Merchants in the pilot are getting set up with the platform, and then they are going to market it," he says.

Planet Payment envisions merchants will promote the mobile service by including a toll-free phone number and product codes in their advertising campaigns, says Reiser. "They can feature it in their print ads, on their Web sites, but especially in e-mail and text campaigns," he says.

Merchants pay set-up, transaction and monthly fees for ShopByVoice, says Reiser, noting merchants participating in the beta test of the product do not have to pay the set-up fee.

The challenge Planet Payment faces is the difficulty of getting consumers to opt for alternative payment methods over existing ones, notes Nick Holland, senior analyst for Aite Group, a Boston-based consulting firm. "The killer in developed markets is the preexistence of credit cards, debit cards and cash (payment options)," he says.

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