A Mobile Payment Challenger From The West
By Mike Masnick, Wed Jun 30 00:15:00 GMT 2004

While the world is focused on mobile payment systems in Japan and Korea, one Canadian provider is looking to take them on.

While Sony's FeliCa solution gets most of the attention when it comes to near-field contactless payment systems, there are other offerings out there -- and they may be gearing up for an international battle. Already, in South Korea, SK Telecom's Moneta has been around for a few years, and is becoming increasingly popular. Both systems are somewhat similar, allowing users to pay for goods quickly by waving their mobile phones (or other contactless products like cards or keychains) at scanners. There has been, as always, a "chicken and egg" problem in getting retailers to accept the scanners if no one is using the payment system, but SK Telecom in Korea and DoCoMo and Sony in Japan have worked hard to help seed the market. In both cases, the companies have been smart to tie the payment system further into the mobile phone system, allowing things like an instant SMS receipt with Moneta and the ability to download additional apps via the FeliCa connection in Japan.

However, not all of the advancements in this space are coming out of Asia. Late last year, a Canadian company launched a similar solution called Dexit with backing from TD Canada Trust, National Bank and TELUS Mobility. Earlier this year, Dexit also signed a deal with Bell Canada. Dexit's system is similar in concept, though not quite as well advanced. The marketing material is currently focused on the RFID contactless payment part, rather than working to closely tie the solution to a mobile phone -- despite the company's association with telcos. In fact, Dexit's website appears to focus mainly on the idea of a Dexit card that you can swipe for payments.

However, Dexit believes that now is the time to make big bets on the space, and is hoping to go public in order to raise $25 million. The plan is to use that cash to expand internationally, where it's likely that the company will start to run up against competition from the likes of FeliCa, Moneta and others (including ExxonMobil's SpeedPass offering in the US). It's also a bit early in the company's history to launch an IPO, but Dexit may be realizing that if it doesn't strike now, the chance may be lost. No matter what, it's clear that there will be no shortage of competitors for the RFID quick mobile payment solution. While there's a real risk that competing products will slow down adoption (especially if different scanning systems scare off retailer partners who don't want to install multiple systems), it's clear that contactless mobile payments are gaining traction around the globe.