Recently I had the pleasure of supporting my colleagues at the Cards and Payments Asia 2015 conference and exhibition in Singapore. I delivered a presentation on Plastic Cards and their Mobile Equivalents where I concentrated on providing advice to banks and solution providers on how to manage the security risk with emerging mobile payments solutions, especially those using host card emulation (HCE). The event in general was much different from previous years and from other ‘cards’ events in other regions.
Firstly, many of the exhibitors, conference speakers, delegates and visitors were from the new breed of payments innovators rather than the established payments incumbents that are heavily involved with EMV chip cards. Secondly, mobile payments in this part of the world are a reality – here, now and in use rather than the endless pilots, business model challenges and false dawns that have often been seen in Europe and North America. The people I met had one important thing in common – a willingness to partner with others who have the relevant experience to make their overall future vision a reality.
I was really impressed by the urgency to move quickly and get enhanced mobile solutions into the hands of the consumer. There were numerous examples of mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) solutions being expanded beyond their original micro-merchant use case, and HCE solutions being applied to other sectors such as transport ticketing rather than just point-of-sale (POS) payments. Most visitors to the Thales stand fully acknowledged the need for new security solutions to support the new risk models introduced when a secure element is not part of the mobile device. The sheer number of new players that have emerged in this region over the past two years to leverage the availability of HCE on the Android platform is quite amazing. It makes me feel like we are moving at a snail’s pace in the West.
We can learn a lot from how mobile is evolving in Asia and not just in the economies of Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. The future of how customers make payments in countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia and how they will fulfill their banking needs is very much focused on the mobile device rather than the plastic payment card – largely because the mobile infrastructure can be established quickly to support people in remote locations who have limited or no access to a traditional bank branch. In my two days at the event I cannot remember a single conversation about cards, but I saw lots of mobile action in the form of excellent demonstrations covering payments, ticketing and banking. It opened up my eyes to a new level of consumer convenience where security is of paramount importance.