Inside the world of Mobile Payments – Interview with Tim Green


If you’re passionate about the world of mobile payments you’ve surely came across the insightful and often witty articles by Tim Green, the expert in mobile payments journalism.

Tim was the longtime Executive Editor of Mobile Entertainment Magazine and currently he’s Editor in Chief of 2 web sites dedicated to mobile payments: Mobile Money Revolution and The Mobile View – be sure to check them out. We’ve talked with Tim about the past, present and the future of mobile industry, with a special focus on the mobile payments industry.

What was your first mobile phone? Did you expect, back in the days, that mobile will change the world and user behavior in the way it did?

I had a Motorola 2G phone back in 1996 I think. I didn’t use it much to be honest. I suppose I only started to think about the ‘mobile computing’ potential of phones when Nokia launched its first N series device and began talking about multimedia computers. But even then, few of us could have seen how Apple and Google would change the nature of mobile.

What were in your opinion the turning points in the evolution of modern cellphone?

History teaches you that it’s rarely technology on its own that makes a difference, it’s always a combo of UI and economics too. So I’d say the slider and the clamshell made a big difference in making phones more mainstream. Then there was all you can eat affordable data, touchscreens, app store, in-app payments, GPS.

iOS or Android?

At the moment iOS. But I make a point of switching around. In the past I’ve used them all – even Bada.

Do you think that the idea “web as a platform” launched by Mozilla and its Firefox OS has the potential to change the global mobile landscape?

No, not really. I think Firefox might have some success in emerging markets, but many users will want Android and will probably get it. Also, the native app is proving pretty durable so far.

How did you became interested in Mobile money?

I spent seven years writing about content/entertainment and by 2012 that market was quite settled and mature. Mobile payments/money seemed much more uncertain and yet full of potential. That’s more interesting for a journalist.

How do you think mobile payments changed the relationship between people and their money?

I don’t think it has – yet. Mobile payment has only really worked in the sense of e-commerce but from a mobile device. That’s not really mobile in the strict sense. It’s online on a small screen. In the ‘offline’ real world, hardly anyone pays with a phone.

What type of mobile payments has the most potential to become a mainstream?

As I said mobile web payments are already there. I’d believe charge-to-bill would be perfect for things like parking and tickets, if rev shares and regulation would permit it. And obviously, m-payment can transform retail environments by removing queues and closing the gap between online searching and in-store transactions. But no one has really worked out how yet.

Operator billing surely has vast potentials (calculating just the number of subscribers – 4.55 billion): what do you think are its main challenges?

As above: rev shares and regulation. Also, I think it needs to be marketed better. Most providers focus on gambling, dating and games. Fair enough – that’s where the business is. But I’d like to see more reaching out to eBooks, parking, Wi-Fi access and so on.

The future of mobile payments: who, when and how?

That’s tough! I don’t expect Apple to do payments, though I do think it will do authentication, and that could speed up the idea of paying by fingerprint. Wearables are interesting. Checking out with a touch on the screen would make more sense than reaching inside the handbag for your £600 Galaxy. Not convinced by NFC. It’s not even mainstream with cards. I think buying with a QR code scan or text string from a poster or magazine will happen before buying in-store for a physical item. So, in the UK, watch out for Powa and Zapp. They’ve both got lots of money, and that’s important because you need funds to persuade brands to adopt these ideas.

Could you tell us a bit more about your new project Why choose video as a main content format?

Four reasons. One: people like watching video. They’re lazy and would often rather watch for 4 minutes than read. Two: any video we film is (obviously) exclusive to us. That’s important when so many media outlets have the same stories. Three: it used to cost loads to make video and require lots of tech knowledge. Now it doesn’t. Four: money! We can make more selling sponsored content than selling banner ads. Please get in touch!

How is tech journalism changing in the past decade? Would you say that social media and micro blogging left a significant impact of the way we consume the information these days?

Tech journalism is unrecognizable in all but one way. It’s gone from print to online. News is immediate. Competition is everywhere. Social has transformed the discovery of news (who needs Google or RSS when you have Twitter?). It’s made individuals much more important. My own twitter feed is probably as important to me as the media I write for. But the way it hasn’t changed is that good writing and original stories are still the only way to stand out from everyone else. Thank God.


Tim Green