Two new m-commerce solutions were launched this week: one for banking in Nigeria and the other for cinema tickets in South Africa.

Exact Mobile has developed SA’s first mobile commerce solution which utilises WAP and credit cards allowing users to purchase movie tickets from Ster Kinekor. Gavin Penkin, Exact Mobile director of portal and entertainment, says Exact Mobile are the first company able to offer such a product as they are the only company, apart from the banks, who have a secure WAP gateway.

"Any mobile phone with secure WAP technology can purchase tickets. Its is therefore not restricted to high-end phones, even the Nokia 3330 could be used to purchase tickets. All the user has to do is use their phone to go to Exact Mobile’s site, click through to the Ster Kinekor site, choose the movie, select their seats from a seating plan and enter their credit card details. After receiving the confirmation SMS, they simply pick up the tickets by swiping their credit card at the Ticketline terminal," he says.

Penkin says the process is just as secure as interacting with a bank through a cellphone. Exact Mobile also has a leased line directly into Ster Kinekor to provide additional security and does not keep the user’s credit card number.

Gary Cousins, Clickatell key sales consultant, says it is very exiting that someone apart from the banks is using a secure WAP gateway enabling them to launch the country’s first credit card m-commerce solution. He says it opens up the opportunity for any other type of m-commerce ticket sale solutions to enter the market.

However, Cousins says there are still many barriers for m-commerce to take off in SA. "The utopia of m-commerce is purchasing goods off your cellphone contract or prepaid account. Through this medium, the unbanked people of the country can be reached and be able to purchase goods from their cellphones. However, in order for this to happen, we will have to see networks and service providers taking much lower margins off premium rated SMS numbers," he says.

Meanwhile two Nigerian mobile providers, Glo Mobile and Vodacom, have concluded arrangements to introduce mobile banking services to their customers this week. With the service called Mobile Banking, customers of the two telephone networks can, direct from their phones, enquire about their Account balance, loan application status, make transfers, make payments for purchases and load their debit cards.

The Mobile banking service is a tripartite arrangement between the banks, the GSM companies and a Switching company which provides the link between the banks and the Mobile companies. InterSwitch, a payment solutions provider, provides switching services for the Mobile banking services of Vodacom and GloMobile.

ItWeb and Vanguard