JBS Group, Business Advisory Services

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sentegra granted patent on its mobile transaction patent application.

Sentegra, www.sentegra.com, is pleased to announce that U.S. Patent No. 8,706,627 B2, entitled “Apparatus, systems and methods for wirelessly transacting financial transfers, electronically recordable authorization transfers and other information transfers” was issued by the United States Patent & Trademark Office on April 22nd, 2014.  http://www.scribd.com/doc/220142145/Patent-8-706-627. The priority date of February 9, 2000 is due to the foresight of Sentegra's founder, Jon Shore. The company continues to pursue additional patent protection for its innovations.
Sentegra is also pleased to announce a partnership with New York City-based Markman Advisors with respect to the company’s patent monetization efforts. Any inquiries regarding the newly-issued patent and licensing of Sentegra's IP should be directed to the attention of Markman Advisors, www.markmanadvisors.com.

Monday, March 25, 2013

New International Marketing Blog

I have created a new blog focused on sharing my experiences, knowledge, insights and opinions about international marketing. Check it out.

International Marketing Blog

Thursday, March 7, 2013

NFC Mobile Payment System Design - Some Tips

Designing a perfect NFC mobile payment system is extremely difficult and complex. The failures that litter the road to success are many. So far I have not seen a successful mobile payment system implemented yet. Even those with mega-buck backing are failing as I write this.

Why is this? Let me list two reasons:

Greed; When the players want the whole basket for themselves then they will fail. Everyone in the value chain must see a real benefit from a mobile payment system or they will not play. One missing link will cause the system to struggle and eventually fail. Attempting to make a payment system exclusive to a particular bank, processor, device, chip, manufacturer or other player will bring on failure as well. It is also important to consider the greed of others and deal with that.

Not understanding human beings: All the payment systems I see in the market place are designed by engineers or payment system experts without taking enough consideration of real, live, normal, human beings and what they really want and need and will use. A payment system must be designed from the human experience, the technology must be adapted to that.

Are you building a NFC mobile transaction system? Do you have a mobile transaction system in the market that is not doing as well as you would like? Contact me. I have been designing mobile payment, ticketing and loyalty systems since 1999. Maybe I can help.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Will Greed and Hubris Sink NFC and Mobile Phone Payment?

If you live in the NFC and mobile payment universe like I do, you hear news every day of new trials, technologies, reports, analyses and opinions. If you live in the normal world of everyday cash and cards you only hear about the coming of ‘Paying with your mobile phone’ in the near future. If you live in ‘normal world’ you might even tap your contactless credit card to a contactless terminal once in a while. You might tap your mass transit pass against a reader. If you are a first adopter and living in Tokyo, Japan or Nice, France you might have a NFC or contactless sticker attached to the back of your phone and use it as your mass transit pass. But, for the most of the developed world, NFC is an unknown term and paying with a mobile phone at a point of sale terminal by tapping that phone is not even a consideration.

I have been involved in the mobile transaction space since 1999. Long before NFC even existed. I have watched the evolution of technologies that have led to the realistic possibility that we will be able to conduct secure transactions with our mobile phones and other mobile devices. I designed a mobile transaction system in 1999 that provided incentives for every player in the food chain to participate in the vast mobile transaction ecosystem. It was a great vision but naïve. It did not take into consideration the level of greed and hubris inherent in the corporate cultures of the mobile operators, banks and credit card organizations. I factored into the system design a certain level of self-serving greed on the part of each participant in the transaction ecosystem but I had no idea to what level that greed could rise. I also did not consider the amount of hubris the individuals in these companies were capable of.

Now I am observing the vision of a ubiquitous mobile transaction and customer service/loyalty system be completely devastated by those who have pushed themselves out into the forefront of the NFC/mobile payment herd. This is not the first time this has happened to a technology and will not be the last. But it is disappointing to see a technology and vision of such great potential to change the world be twisted into knots and be turned into a failure.

Because of the insistence by mobile operators that a secure element be embedded in the SIM card the transaction time is now too slow for use as an Oyster Card for London’s mass transit system. Due to the greed of issuing banks and mobile operators, only one credit card can presently be included in an NFC phone. What problem does that solve? Due to lack of vision and hubris the major players in the NFC race do not insist on bi-directional communication through the NFC reader at the POS so that coupons and offers can be transmitted back to the mobile handset during the transaction. Instead the mobile operators cheer at the prospect of SMS revenues when coupons are sent via SMS, never considering that this only removes an incentive for a merchant to add the NFC terminal to their POS in the first place. The examples go on and on and are too numerous to be addressed here in a short article.

Instead of true cooperation we are offered a self-serving vision provided to us by ISIS or Google. Visions limited in scope by their inexcusable inability to understand transactions from a human viewpoint as well as by their greed and hubris which blind them to that understanding.

As I write this article there are new technologies being tested that appear to be more secure, faster and even better for transactions than NFC and contactless. It is likely that by the time we see a mass rollout of NFC phones, NFC will be supplanted by one of these new technologies. I am confident that these same players will be able to screw this up as well.

Mine is only one voice in the universe of mobile transactions. I do not claim to be the only expert in the field by any means. But I am one of them and am an excellent observer and forecaster with many years of successful and accurate prognostication. So let’s see what happens next. It will be interesting.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Google Introducing New Mobile Wallet for Android

Google is announcing tomorrow its new mobile phone wallet for the Nexus S NFC enabled phone. Google has paid for readers from Verifone to be installed in a number of merchant locations in New York City and San Francisco including Macy's, Subway and American Eagle Outfitters. Google has made agreements with Citi and MasterCard to handle the transactions. Only Google will have the key to the secure element in the NFC chip set.

This is exciting news for the few of us in the NFC  universe. But it is time for a reality check.

The Samsung/Google Nexus S phone has gotten some pretty bad reviews so far and is not selling well. One of the major complaints has been that the software in the Nexus S requires that you connect to Google's Cloud services for many essential operations. This is problematic for many people including me. Lest we forget, it must be a good phone first, then a good smartphone second. The NFC part is irrelevant for most users. So there are not many Nexus S phones in use in New York or San Francisco. How is Google going to provide for a real trial of NFC without a mass adoption of their NFC phone?

Maybe the mobile division engineers at Google believe the hype from Forrester researchers claiming that 40 - 50 million NFC enabled phones will be sold in 2011. For anyone who believes that figure I have a great piece of land in Siberia for a summer cottage.

Yes, RIM will probably come out with an NFC phone at the end of this year. But how many people will buy it immediately? Maybe Google engineers think that RIM will give them access to the secure element as well in Blackberry phones. Probably not. Whoever has the key to the secure element in an NFC chip set controls the wallet. This will always limit the adoption and usage of NFC phones.  If the NFC tag and secure element are in the SIM card then the mobile operator is going to control it. But NFC SIM cards and microSD cards are very problematic for numerous reasons as discussed in previous posts.

The turnover of mobile phones is about every 2 years in the US and Europe. Penetration of NFC enabled phones will take between 2-4 years for critical mass if there are at least 12 NFC phones available. By that time the Nexus S will be an antique. If companies keep creating unrealistic hype about NFC then it will lose all credibility by the time the technology is mature and ready for mass adoption and NFC chips could then become vintage as well.

As I have said so often, NFC as a transaction medium is coming and will do great things if rolled out properly without all the ridiculous hype and propaganda.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

NFC Making Progress

VISA has announced their new electronic wallet will be rolled out this autumn. http://corporate.visa.com/media-center/press-releases/press1124.jsp
For some reason the press has taken hold of a very small part of this electronic wallet announcement, the NFC at the POS part, as the only important point of the press release. A Wired News writer added his own embellishments to reality in his article as well stating that one merely waves a phone near a point of sale terminal to conduct a transaction and that there are only a few phones available with NFC so far.
NFC does not work well if you only wave the device near a point of sale terminal, especially if it is embedded in a phone. You must tap the NFC reader, sometimes for a second or two. In the US there is only one NFC phone available, not a few. Google announced yesterday that their engineers were having a difficult time getting their Nexus S, NFC phone working with the NFC readers that they are planning to pay for and roll out in New York City and San Francisco. Apple also announced yesterday that they would not be incorporating NFC in the iPhone 5. (A smart move).

So, time for another reality check.

I suggest reading the VISA press release if this is an interesting topic for you. Then when you read all the flowery and over the top articles in the trade publications you will have a more realistic perspective on what is really being planned by VISA. I suggest going to the source as often as possible. Press releases are usually flowery enough without embellishment.

NFC as a transaction data transport medium is coming. But it is not coming as fast as the mobile operators or other invested parties would like you to believe. That is hype and propaganda. ISIS is backing down from its grandiose claims and blaming the Dodd Act. The fact is that NFC is not an easy technology to implement on a large scale and, especially, in mobile phones. Open loop systems also have their own problems for NFC as well. Trials will come and go. Some will be successful and some will not. NFC phone trials will be costly because end users in a trial will need to be supplied with NFC enabled mobile phones and merchants will need to be supplied with NFC readers. NFC microSD card trials are also problematic since the microSD cards are very picky about where they are placed in a phone and how they are tapped to the reader. They also do not provide the added value services necessary for a real and profitable NFC experience.

NFC will proliferate step by step. All divergent flavors of NFC will finally merge into one standard in the next year. More phones will become available in 2012 and 2013. Other NFC devices will make their appearance in the next 2 years as well. Users will start upgrading their phones to NFC phones in 2012 to 2015. Issues between banks, credit card companies, mobile operators, payment processors, handset manufacturers and others will be worked out. First in Asia, then in Europe and then in the US. Press releases, hype and propaganda will be replaced by real paid advertising by the major players in 2012 and 2013. One or two companies will roll out real NFC installations with all the great added values NFC brings to the market in 2012. But this will not be with SD cards, SIM cards or NFC phones. These genuine NFC installations will be the real motivator for NFC adoption. Hype is just propaganda and will not move the market in the long term. Reality will eventually settle in and the press will express their disillusionment as quickly and as strongly as they expressed their excitement.

Watch for those companies that are based on good solid understanding of the markets rather than those who try to surf every new wave of hype that appears.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Investment In People and Innovation; The Essential Element For Progress

I realize that I set this blog up to present insights into the electronic transactions space but I was reading an article on the need for investment in people, technology and infrastructure and I felt that it was so important that I make a mention of it on this blog. Here is the quote I was most impressed with and the link to the article:

"Declining nations glory in their past accomplish­ments because their future looks so bleak. Rising nations become great by looking to the future, investing in their people and their infrastruc­ture, and taking risks."
Michael R. Honig

The article is focused on the USA but it applicable to all countries and all investment vehicles.

Investment in people and new technologies can be a risk. But the potential rewards far outweigh the risks and the results of not investing are assured. The US government does not invest in new technologies and start-up companies and the results can be seen as the US falls behind most other nations in innovation. The EU claims to invest in start-ups and new technologies but they make the process so difficult, bureaucratic and restrictive that most entrepreneurs either give up trying or never even start. The country that does put its money behind its policies is Israel. There innovation is thriving.

For many perceived reasons, traditional venture capital firms and other private investment organizations are extremely cautious about investing in pre-revenue start-ups or they do not invest in them at all. I think about how many fantastic inventions or processes never get beyond an inventor's basement because of a lack of funding.

A solution? Well, the one I advocate is that governments establish an investment fund for innovation. This fund has a mixed strategy, equity investments in pre-revenue start-ups and grants for entrepreneurs. The fund is managed by entrepreneurs who have proven themselves to be imaginative, open, business savvy and insightful.
I also advocate for government and private industry investment in continuing education and mentoring programs for anyone who would like to be an entrepreneur or start their own business.  Both programs need people behind them who are serious about the success of the programs and their nation. Not like the programs that exist now that are underfunded and too bureaucratic to function properly.

The future depends upon entrepreneurs, inventors and dreamers. Without support the world will progress much slower if at all. Space travel will be an adventure only seen in films. Diseases that could be cured will kill for decades more. Electricity will be generated by burning coal and antiquated methods of atomic power. We will still be driving cars that are stuck in traffic jams for hours 20 years from now and we will probably be still typing with fingers on a keyboard like this one at a computer. I could go on and on as could you.

I hope we will see a more serious commitment from all our governments and private industries for the support of innovation and invention in the near future.