ST Electronics Acquires Stake In Mobile Payment Solutions Provider

Singapore Technologies Electronics (ST Elect) has spent S$99,000 (US$57,000) to acquire a 19.8 percent stake in mobile payment solutions provider mPayment in its ongoing effort to develop a strong mobile commerce initiative.

ST Elect, the systems design and integration arm of Singapore Mainboard-listed Singapore Technologies Engineering, has also launched mPayment’s SMS-based mPurse micro-payment solution as its first mobile commerce solution.

“We see mobile commerce as the next big consumer market driver,” said Seah Moon Ming, president of ST Elect and chairman of mPayment.

“Our mobile commerce initiatives will bring together mPayment, payment infrastructure providers, payment solutions companies, telecommunication service providers and ST Elect’s own mobile devices and systems integration capabilities to build and deploy a total m-commerce community in Singapore and the region.”

mPayment specializes in mobile payment, commerce and marketing solutions. The one-year-old company holds four patent-pending technologies: mPurse, mDebit, mCredit and mP2P. Its first product was a PDA-based mobile encryption and payment solution; a joint SIM II development with a leading SIM card manufacturer was completed in October 2000.

The shareholders of Singapore-based mPayment include: W3, an e-business Angel fund, which holds 60 percent; Green Dot Capital, the e-business arm of Singapore Technologies, which holds 20.2 percent; and ST Elect, which currently holds 19.8 percent. ST Elect will have an option to increase its shareholding to 33 percent at the current price per share, the company said in a statement.

ST Elect’s new mPurse offering is suited for virtual transactions and regular or ad-hoc micro-payments to government agencies, telcos and utility companies, where there is little risk of wrongful payment or “overpayment” not being refunded, according to its developers. The micro-payments can be made for telco and ISP charges, parking and traffic fines, income and property taxation, even school fees.

With mPurse, consumers send simple, formatted SMS instructions to make payment to their selected merchants by debiting a virtual stored-value card account with their financial institution.

mPurse makes it possible to make micro-payments using any mobile phone in the market today, thus overcoming the limitations of existing WAP and SIM card payment solutions, which work only with WAP phones and special SIM cards. The micro-payment amounts can total up to S$500 (US$286), depending on the limits set by banks and virtual card operators.

According to Daniel Wong, mPayment’s general manager, the company’s other solutions – mDebit, mCredit and mP2P – are targeted for completion and deployment by January next year.

“mDebit and mCredit will enable consumers to make mobile micro-payment transactions at participating point-of-sale (POS) merchants by directly debiting the transaction amount from his bank account or via a credit card payment into the merchant’s bank account,” Wong said.

mP2P will enable mobile peer-to-peer micro-payments that can be extended to cross-border transactions. This means one party in Singapore can pay another party in another country if they are customers of the same bank, with accounts that are linked for cross-border payment settlements.

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