Deutsche Telekom Looks to Expand its Mobile Payment Reach

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Yesterday it was announced that Deutsche Telekom and MasterCard have partnered to begin bringing mobile phone payment methods to more Europeans over the next year. Today it has become clear that MasterCard is not the only company Deutsche Telekom is courting to handle mobile payments through its network.

Bloomberg today is reporting that Deutsche Telekom is in talks with many banks and other companies about using their software for mobile phone payments. Thomas Kiessling, chief product and innovation officer for Deutsche Telekom, told Bloomberg that a partnership with Google is "theoretically possible."

Google unveiled its Google Wallet service last year, but the product hasn't taken off due to the lacking mobile payment infrastructure throughout the west. With rumors that Apple's next iPhone will have built-in NFC technology, though, players in the industry are scrambling to grab a piece of the mobile payment market. Kiessling told Bloomberg that while 50 or 60 mobile wallet services are entering the market, he believes only three or four will survive.

Kiessling made it clear that Deutsche Telekom is trying to stay ahead by embracing mobile payment technologies early. Bloomberg quotes Kiessling:

“In many areas you shouldn’t wait for standardization, because that’s how the telcos missed a series of innovations over the past 10 years,” [Kiessling] said. “We tried to standardize advanced messaging globally and in the end other industries were faster.”

Kiessling is right. The technology for mobile payments has been available for years now, and the banking and credit industries were the ones that have been lagging behind. NFC technology has been used widely in Asia, particularly South Korea, for years. Though Deutsche Telekom is trying to hedge its mobile payment bets by embracing everyone, it might take an iTunes-like service to finally force the industry to catch up with technology.

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