One of the latest attempts to tap the tough-to-crack mobile payments space is coming from Paymo, which hopes its vast international reach, accessible platform and an executive team with a deep background in mobile commerce will be the formula that allows it to grab share in a global online marketplace that Juniper Research could be worth $22.4 billion within four years.
The payments firm, whose executive team counts CEO Paul McGuire—a former founder of mobile transaction network mBlox, and longtime payments and mobile IT veteran Alexandre Gonthier as its CTO—is making its platform available in 39 markets globally, including the United States, where merchants should be able to accept payments during the first quarter. Rather than going head to head with Visa and Mastercard for mobile payments market share, the two-year old Paymo is trying to outflank the credit card giants by tapping consumers that use mobile phones, yet are either unbanked or are making relatively small payments on social networking sites, avatars, online music and videos, virtual goods or gaming sites.
Consumers use Paymo by entering their mobile phone number to initiate a transaction and confirming the purchase via a text message. The purchase is then billed directly to the user’s mobile phone. “Social networking applications have been difficult to monetize. This is an easy way for consumers to purchase what they want, and an easy way for a social networking application to developer to receive payment. This gives them access to an audience that they didn’t have previously,” says Terry Langlais, a director at Paymo in San Francisco.
Paymo’s executives believe accessibility will be the firm’s lure: users don’t need a log-in or password, nor do they need to remember a credit card number or set up separate accounts for online transactions linked to a bank account or credit card. Making consumers aware of how easy the product is to use will drive Paymo’s ultimate success. “They issue here is to drive home the ease of use for consumers,” says Ed Kountz, senior analyst for ebusiness and channel strategy and payments for Forrester Research in Atlanta, who adds experienced executives like Gonthier position the firm well to meet its challenges. “Consumers aren’t really clamoring for this type of innovation. They’re not saying ‘I need a streamlined interface for these types of payments.’”