Mobile payments are great in concept: No more cash. No more credit cards. Just call a number and put down your phone. That's it. French company Tagattitude claims to have developed what it calls the "first turnkey mobile payment platform that works on any of the 4 billion mobiles around the world."
It's just that we've heard such promises before, though we admit that Tagattitude's solution, "Tag Pay," uses the phone's audio channel in a clever way.
To execute a payment, the merchant first calls a number with his mobile device and enters the sale amount. The customer then calls another number and puts his phone in a special stand, connected to the merchant's phone. In the stand, an encrypted audio code is sent through the customer's phone to Tagattitude's payment server and the payment is cleared.
It works. But many clever solutions for mobile payment have already been launched, with limited success. Consider some of the pitfalls. Can you create an account directly from your mobile phone? Can you connect the service to your bank account rather than a prepaid one that you need to fill up? Can you be refunded for a sale that is returned? Can you buy something really expensive?
If you resolve all this, as some solutions do--Swedish payment service Cms, for example--there is still the challenge of getting a critical mass of merchants to offer the payment method.
Will Tagattitude be the first? The company will demonstrate its Tag Pay platform at GSMA 2009 in Barcelona, so we'll have to wait and see.