Mobile Account Management: The Mobile Commerce Enabler

The first step toward mobile commerce is enabling banking functions through the mobile phone because consumers will ultimately manage the balances of purchasing instruments built into their mobile devices. In the same way people manage the cash and cards they carry in their physical wallets today, consumers will need to be able to manage the purchasing instruments and rewards programs in their “electronic wallets.” This is mobile account management.

The cornerstone of mobile commerce is the ability for consumers to manage money in their electronic wallets—bank accounts, yes, but so many other account types, too.

In the same way people manage the cash and cards they carry in their physical wallets today, consumers need to be able to manage the purchasing instruments and rewards programs in their electronic wallets. This is called mobile account management, but what does that really mean?

Today, people put cash into their wallets by going to an ATM and withdrawing money from a bank account. They pay credit card bills with checks or electronic funds transfers drawn from a bank account and debit purchases are immediately deducted from a bank account. People increasingly manage their bank and credit accounts from a computer, transferring money from one account to another and initiating electronic payments.

Clearly, the first step toward mobile commerce is enabling some, or all, of these banking functions through the mobile phone, because this is how consumers will ultimately manage the balances of any purchasing instrument built into their mobile devices. And, while it’s not pervasive yet, mobile banking through mobile phones is happening today. Companies like mFoundry, Firethorn, mBlox, Blaze Mobile, Vipera and others offer mobile phone software through service agreements with banks that enable consumers to manage their bank accounts with their mobile devices.

We’ll take a closer look at mobile banking services, but first let’s see why this is just the first step toward mobile account management. Consider the following mobile commerce scenario: A young couple is out shopping for a few small home-improvement items...