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With smartphone usage growing by leaps and bounds each year, payment providers are grappling to win control of the mobile payments market. Since total mobile purchases are expected to exceed $600 billion in 2013, it’s not an insignificant contest. Who are the current leaders? Who is best positioned to gain market dominance?

Mobile payment platforms can be broken down into two categories:

Those that bill the customer via their phone bill

Those that bill the customer via their credit card or bank account

Phone Bill Based Systems 1) SMS Payments

Some mobile carriers allow users to make payments to third-party merchants via SMS (text message). Typically, the buyer sends a text message to a specific shortcode, which returns a pin number that the buyer can use to access their order. The buyer is then billed via their monthly phone bill. Making payments through SMS messages is declining due to several issues, including implementation cost, lack of flexibility, payment delays, etc.

2) Direct Billing

Direct mobile billing allows users to pay merchants via their phone bills, but this system is more flexible than SMS billing. Direct mobile billing is very popular in Asia, and it is growing in usage in the United States for online games and other digital content. BilltoMobile, Boku, and Zong are three providers that offer a direct mobile payment platform for merchants. There are several ways the system can be setup, but payments are typically initiated from the merchant’s website, verified via SMS or through another method, and then completed on the merchant’s website.


Easy for users – no need to type a credit card number (or even to have one)


Currently limited by most providers to about $100 in purchases per month

Costs for merchants are high

Only intended for digital purchases

Bank Based Systems 3) Google Wallet

Google Wallet allows users to make payments online from a mobile or desktop device or in-store using near field communication. Purchases are billed via the credit card the user has saved in their Wallet account.


Has a head start on other providers, including Paypal, and is integrated into more retail stores


Fewer features than Paypal

Only supports payments via Credit card (not via bank account)

4) Paypal

Paypal offers both a mobile website and mobile apps that allow you to send money, request money, and make purchases. Purchases are billed via a credit card or bank account the user has set up on their account. Paypal also supports in-store payments like Google Wallet does.


Leading alternative payment provider online

Many additional features (send money direct to individuals, get a debit card, etc.)


Supported at fewer retail stores than Google Wallet

This screenshot shows the bar code generated by the Paypal mobile app to facilitate in-store payment.

 5) In-App Purchases

Both Apple and Google (Android) allow app developers to set up their apps so customers can use the App Store to make purchases within the app. A major drawback to in-app purchases is the high fees (about 30%) charged to the merchant.


Developers, merchants, and users are already using the store


Only intended for digital purchases

Very high cost for merchants

Only intended for app-based purchases (not in person or on mobile website)

 6) Amazon MPS

Amazon Mobile Payments Service supports mobile payments within apps or mobile websites, but it isn’t targeted at in-store purchases. Based on this limitation, we do not consider Amazon a major player for long-term dominance.

 7) ISIS

ISIS is a joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless that will offer a mobile wallet, probably somewhat similar to Google Wallet. The service has not yet fully launched, but it will be well positioned to capture significant market share due to the resources and reputations of its backers.

 8) MasterCard PayPass

PayPass is a wallet service from Mastercard that supports online and in-store purchases, much like PayPal and Google Wallet. PayPass is still in Beta, but it’s definitely a player to watch.

 9) Visa

Visa is also launching their own mobile payment option. Users with Visa-approved, NFC-equipped mobile phones will be able to link their smartphones to their Visa cards and make in-store payments.

Who Will Win?

It’s difficult to predict which platform will be the mobile payments leader in the future, but here are a few ideas and points to consider:

PayPal and Google Wallet are both in strong positions and have a head start on some of the other players.

For app stores to have a strong position long term, they will need to drastically reduce their fees for in-app purchases.

Options that support payment via phone bills will also need to reduce merchant costs to compete.

While platforms from ISIS, MasterCard, and Visa are latecomers to the game, they are backed by huge industry players.

There is also an implicit hardware battle since in-store payments only work if the merchant’s equipment supports the payment platform the consumer wants to use.

Who will win the mobile payments battle? It’s really too early to say, but I am expecting an established player to become the leader. Only time will tell. Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Image Credit: BigStockPhoto / leaf

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Coronavirus Pandemic: How Will It Impact The Mobile Industry?

Read: How to clean and disinfect your smartphone

Supply line disruptions are already happening

Some companies are reportedly already making plans to depend less on Chinese factories.

Some companies are reportedly already making plans to depend less on Chinese factories. The Nikkei Asian Review reported that Google has commissioned factories in Vietnam to make the upcoming Pixel 4a and will do the same for the high-end Pixel 5 as well. The same article says Google will use factories in Thailand to make some of its smart home devices. LG has also moved the manufacturing of its smartphones from China to Vietnam.

CNBC quotes research firm Kearney as saying it is feasible that many more companies will move manufacturing of modules and finished goods out of China. However, moving the entire component supply chain out of China could prove to be more difficult. Components are “a singular choke point as components are a necessary ingredient in modules and finished goods assemblies. This is very hard to move, as it requires entire ecosystems,” Kearney said.

The coronavirus outbreak will only accelerate the trend to make smartphones, and indeed many other products, out of China.

Shaking up trade shows and press events

In mid-February, the GSMA canceled the 2023 Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona out of coronavirus fears. That was before the outbreak even gained a large foothold in Europe.

The GSMA has confirmed to Android Authority that, following the cancelation of the 2023 MWC edition, it would “realign its priorities, including staffing, to continue to serve the evolving telecommunications industry and enable the rollout of 5G”.  The statement seems to suggest that some layoffs at GSMA will happen, but specifics were not revealed.

Other major trade shows that were scheduled to be held in March, including the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, the Geneva Auto Show, South by Southwest, the 2023 Google I/O developer conference, the E3 video game trade show, Microsoft Build, and most recently Apple’s WWDC have been canceled or postponed. Some job losses due to these cancellations are inevitable.

More and more major companies are now asking employees not to travel or to work remotely. All of Google’s staff in North America now works from home, for instance.

More and more major companies are now asking employees not to travel or to work remotely. All of Google’s staff in North America now works from home, for instance. If the outbreak continues to get worse during the spring months, other tech could be reconsidered.

In the long run, smartphone companies could make some major marketing and PR changes in a post-coronavirus world. They could decide it’s cheaper to hold online events to launch new products, instead of holding massive press events. We have already seen this happen with Huawei, Sony, and Xiaomi holding virtual press events.

If companies decide virtual press events can do the job just as well as a huge press conference or attending a trade show, we could see fewer of these events in the months and years to come.

Read: Best TV streaming services

Video game purchases, on mobile, PCs, and consoles, could also get a boost if quarantines extend to longer periods. Ironically, this crisis comes along just as streaming game services like Google Stadia, Microsoft xCloud, and NVIDIA Geforce Now are ramping up. Before the outbreak, there have been many doubts that such services would be popular. It’s possible that they could see an increase in use if people are forced to stay home or get isolated for long periods of time.

The worst-case scenario: A global economic slowdown

Up until now, we talked about the direct effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the smartphone industry. But the biggest effect, and potentially the most damaging, will be indirect, stemming from a potential global recession caused by the coronavirus.

Right now, we don’t know what the final economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak will be. If cases start to let up in the spring months, the final impact could be just a quarter or two of low to negative growth, perhaps mostly limited to industries with direct exposure.

If the coronavirus outbreak persists in the spring and summer months, or if it comes back in force in the fall, the economic impact could be much higher and broader.

If the coronavirus outbreak persists in the spring and summer months, or if it comes back in force in the fall, the economic impact could be much higher and broader. We have already seen global disruption in the travel industry, with some airlines cutting back their flights by as much as 20%. The International Air Transport Association recently said airlines could lose as much as $113 billion in revenue in 2023, depending on how widespread the virus gets. It’s the same situation with other sectors like tourism, hospitality, entertainment, and other services.

The problem is the world economy isn’t in a position to absorb big shocks. Part of the reason was the extended trade war between the US and China, which raised prices overall for many products. Much of Europe was already suffering from a stagnant economy, even before the coronavirus came along. In the US, the economy has been enjoying a record-long stretch of growth that was bound to end sooner or later. Even last year some experts were predicting a recession.

Ee Doublespeed Lte Goes Live July 4; 802.11Ac Router, Mobile Payments, More

EE DoubleSpeed LTE goes live July 4; 802.11ac router, Mobile Payments, more

UK 4G carrier EE has revealed its latest devices, including an 802.11ac router for EE’s fiber, as well as detailing its shared 4G plans and double-speed roll-out. EE DoubleSpeed will go live on July 4th, the carrier has confirmed today, and offer up to 150Mbps theoretically, though in practice more like 24-40 Mbps; it’ll be available to new and existing subscribers (at no extra cost) in twelve cities, rather than the originally announced ten. There’s also a new mobile payments service in association with MasterCard.

Meanwhile, there’s also a summer promotion on the way: new sign-ups before September 30th will get more data for their money. EE also has a new data-only option for pay-as-you-go connections, initially offering three months of service for the price of a single month.

As for the mobile payments service, dubbed Cash On Tap, that offers NFC payments of up to £20 ($30) at over 230,000 UK outlets. First time users will get £10 automatically added on, and a local app will allow transaction tracking and balance enquiries.

For the home, meanwhile, there’s the EE Bright Box 2, an 802.11ac WiFi router for EE fiber subscribers. It’ll be offered free to plug-and-play to EE broadband subscribers for easy installation, and has four ethernet ports and supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz use.

Update: We originally reported the Bright Box 2 bridged an LTE connection; in actual fact it will eventually be able to do that with a USB 4G modem, though the first generation of boxes will only support 3G modems thanks to power-draw shortcomings on the port itself. EE tells us the second-gen version will provide enough power for 4G modems, though first-gen box owners won’t be able to upgrade as it’s a hardware shortcoming.

EE’s shared plans, meanwhile, will support up to five devices, with unlimited calls/texts for phones and up to 20GB of data. Adding a phone costs an extra £12 per month on a 12-month contract; adding a tablet or mobile broadband device will cost £5 more. A data limit alert is sent out at 80-percent and 100-percent of the allowance being used up, after which point internet access is denied until a top-up data bundle is purchased. More details – and pricing – in the gallery below.

It’s been an impressive few months for EE’s 4G network, which only launched in the UK eight months ago. The carrier now covers 55-percent of the UK by population, and expects that to rise to 98-percent by the end of 2014.

Meanwhile, independent metrics suggest EE’s LTE speed in the UK actually out-performs 4G in New York City, though given US service started earlier – and presumably has more subscribers – that’s maybe not so great a surprise. EE is also claiming that its network is on a par with the fastest 4G services in Korea, though that obviously doesn’t include the new LTE-Advanced.

Of course, EE can’t expect to have the 4G market in the UK all to itself, and its rivals are mustering their own LTE with launches later this year. Vodafone UK is already offering “4G ready” devices – most recently the R212 mobile hotspot – complete with latent LTE support, ready for when the carrier’s service goes live in a matter of months.

The Security Caveats Of Nfc Payments

The idea of paying for something without using your PIN number isn’t something new anymore. Despite that, the concept exposes you to just as many vulnerabilities (if not more) than it did before.

Previously, I have written about Android Pay’s PIN-less mobile payment system and the negative consequences people can suffer by replacing their PIN numbers with biometric authentication. Now there are devices such as NFC payment rings that further exacerbate the previous vulnerability issues of other similar solutions. It turns out that there are a couple of things you should know before you hop into the bandwagon of convenience that contact-less payments provide.

People Can Listen in on Transactions

Hackers and researchers have been aware of NFC eavesdropping since at least 2013 when some folks crafted a shopping cart that could easily slip in and “listen” to transactions being made by contact-less payment. To prevent such a phenomenon from happening, readers need to encrypt their connections from end to end. Even then, the possibility of eavesdropping still exists. For consumers to be reliably safe, it’s better to avoid using NFC in crowded places.

The Data Can Be Invalidated

This particular problem annoys retailers just as much as shoppers. A hacker can place a device near the reader that corrupts the data going into the reader, making it impossible to make a purchase at that particular counter. Hackers might have an incentive to do this in conjunction with eavesdropping to make sure that the customer does not empty their balance before they have a chance to use it.

The solution to this problem is the same here as it is for eavesdropping. Retailers should use secure channels for transmitting and receiving data on their NFC readers. Although this particular attack doesn’t present a particular threat to either the retailer or the customer (just a lot of frustration), it’s worth repeating the fact that it can be especially dangerous to the customer when hackers choose to combine this with eavesdropping.

The “Man in The Middle” Attack

Described in better detail over here, a man in the middle (MiM) attack is a sophisticated form of eavesdropping in which the hacker will intercept the conversation between the NFC device and the reader processing the payment and send false information to both. This way hackers can invalidate data (sending the reader garbage information as I’ve described above) and receive the NFC payment themselves based on what the NFC device tried to send to the reader.

Because of their sophistication, such attacks are very rare, but the vulnerabilities currently present in NFC transactions create an incentive for hackers to start investing more time in making tools that will carry out these attacks. To make matters worse, hackers can actively listen in on the connection before the encryption “handshake” is complete, making encryption rather useless at this point. But one thing retailers could do is to have an active-passive style of communication where the NFC device simply sends over its data, and the reader simply processes the information and sends back purchase confirmation.

Never Underestimate Pickpocketers

Of course, when you’re not cut out for cleverly hacking your way into payment portals, your best option is to simply grab whatever people are using to pay for things these days. A card is a bit harder to steal since you’d normally have to steal the entire wallet which is sitting inside of a pocket most of the time (some people use their inside coat pocket for their wallets, making this more challenging).

But phones are often kept outside of pockets and easily get lost. Even if they are in a pocket, most people won’t treat their phones with such care as they do their wallets. NFC payment rings take this a little bit further since it is even easier to lose rings. Stealing them is only a matter of finding an opportune moment when someone takes off their rings to wash their hands.

My suggestion for people using phones is to make sure they have some way to remotely lock the device down if it’s lost. Other than that, you should be avoiding NFC payments entirely if it is very important for you to minimize the chances of your money being stolen in any of the nasty ways I’ve described above.

Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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How Google’s New Mobile Ad Units Will Increase Your Mobile Conversions

Just check out the graph below from a WordStream study proving that mobile conversions fall far behind conversions occurring on desktops and tablets:


Think about it. When you’re cooking pasta while browsing your phone for new sandals and you notice the water boiling over, are you going to ignore it and proceed with your shopping? Absolutely not. Advertisers need to realize mobile searchers are not different people, but people in a different state of mind.

So, what has Google done to address this?

“When session lengths are compressed as they are on mobile, we need to drive people to answers more quickly,” Dischler said. “On mobile, people also expect more rich content. So we’re going to build products that work well on mobile first. For each vertical, we’d like to create a template that will lead to an answer.” So take a breather, Google has not forgotten about you!

Now let’s take a look into some of the most innovative features these new ad formats have to offer.

#1: Mobile Ads are Becoming More Visually Interactive

#2: Easily Compare & Read Product Reviews on the SERPs

Do you remember the last time you bought a car? You hopped online, did a search including the ‘must-have’ terms to find an affordable and practical vehicle, and hit “Buy now”, right?

Not exactly. You likely spent months comparing models, conducting research, reading reviews, etc.

Google understands how people shop. Searchers want to make informed decisions before purchasing. Whether it be booking a hotel room or signing up for a new credit card, a searcher is never going to choose the first thing they see. They also understand that, on mobile, the chances of visiting a bunch of websites to get additional information on various brands are pretty much nonexistent. Mobile searchers don’t have the patience, time, or attention span for this kind of investigation.

This is why Google introduced Google Compare in March to help shoppers compare car insurance directly through the SERPs. “Whether you’re a national insurance provider or one local to California, people searching  for car insurance on their phone or computer can find you along with an apples-to-apples comparison of other providers – all in as little as 5 minutes,” says the Google AdWords blog. “You can highlight what makes your business unique, whether that’s an ‘A’ rating in customer service or better discounts for safe drivers.”

#3: Revamp of Dynamic Search Ads to Make Your Life Easier

The problem with targeting searchers with keywords is that 15% of Google searches are completely unique and have never been searched for before, therefore chasing mobile specific keywords is a fool’s game. Luckily, Google has made huge strides with a complete revamp of Dynamic Search Ads providing a much higher level of transparency and lower level of keyword management.

Also, you don’t need to break a sweat about Google running the show because you will still have the ability to make adjustments on categories, targeted searches, ad text, etc.

#4: The Ability to Buy, Book, & Act Directly Through the SERPs

Mobile searchers are far too busy to visit a bunch of websites. They want to hop on Google, get an answer or complete an action, without having to go through a site full of hurdles and pages to get the end result. With additional hurdles on mobile comes a lack of motivation from searchers. “Eh, I guess I don’t really need that,” or “I’ll do it later,” the searcher thinks, and then sayonara to that on-the-brink conversion.

What are your thoughts on these new mobile ad formats?

Image Credits

How To Check Which Games Will Run On The Steam Deck.

If you are have purchased or are thinking about purchasing a Steam Deck the most important thing to be aware of is finding out which games are actually compatible with the device. Although thousands of games will work on the Steam Deck without issue, some popular titles may not work, so follow along as we show you how to check which games will work on Steam Deck.

Related: The Reason For Slow Steam Cloud Sync and How to Fix it.

Steam Deck is Valve’s flagship mobile console that took the world by storm when it was announced at the end of 2023. At first glance, it looks like a masterwork of hardware and claims to allow users to play most of the games in their current and every growing Steam library. However, there are some titles that aren’t going to make the cut. So how exactly do you determine what games will or won’t work on the Steam Deck? As officially quoted by Steam:

“The team is currently working on a way for you to be able to check the compatibility category of each of the games in your own library ahead of launch. In addition, you’ll soon be able to see which games in the Steam catalogue have already gone through Steam Deck review, and what compatibility category they fall in. More on this soon.”

“We’ve already started reviewing titles and will continue to check games through launch and beyond. This is an ongoing evaluation of the entire catalogue and a game’s rating can change over time – titles will be re-reviewed as the developer releases updates or the Deck’s software improves.”

Valve is reviewing the entire Steam catalogue on Steam Deck, so more games will be added to each of the sections listed below so new games will be added to each category as they are reviewed and checked against Valve’s benchmarks. There are a few reasons certain games won’t make the cut after they have been reviewed.

Some could be compatibility issues with Proton and SteamOS. While others that rely entirely on mouse and keyboard will make compatibility impossible. This is to be expected from a handheld console though, but Perhaps Steam will add wireless keyboard and mouse support at some stage to counter this shortcoming.

How do you check which games you can run on Steam Deck?


Deck verified games from your library.

Deck playable games from your library.

Unsupported deck games from your library.

Untested deck games from your library.

Verified games have been tested by Valve and will run great on the Steam Deck and don’t require extra work on your behalf to start playing.

Playable games will work but can require some changes or adjustments on your part. What these changes and adjustments are will depend on the game you are trying to play.

Untested games are games that Valve hasn’t yet got around to checking and testing. Which is a huge portion of the current Steam library. As the Steam library is absolutely gigantic it will probably take them a while to get through all of the games on the list.

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