EPayments Project Final Report of Initial Project Work rnib innovation Unit

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ePayments Project

Final Report of Initial Project Work

RNIB Innovation Unit

August 2010

Prepared for:

RNIB ePayments Project Board and Stream Lead


Jon Wyllie, Edward Chandler and Kiran Kaja

Innovation Unit

Royal National Institute of Blind People

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements 2

1.0 Introduction 3

2.0 Review of literature 7

3.0 Summary of issues with ePayment methods 11

4.0 Review of current industry initiatives 19

5.0 Conclusions 33

6.0 Recommendations 34

Appendix A: Literature review of the finance stream 39

Appendix B: Literature review of the retail stream 40

Appendix C: Literature review of the transport stream 57


The authors of this report would like to thank Sabine van den Heuvel and Shaun Leamon for their involvement in the project and collating the information for this report. Special thanks to John Worsfold for his help to get this report ready.

1.0 Introduction

The ePayments project is part of the RNIB Group Strategy 2009 - 2014: Ending the Isolation of Sight Loss. Under Priority 3 of the strategy, RNIB aims to help create an inclusive society by making it possible for:

  1. More people to make journeys safely and independently

  2. More people to shop independently and have personal control of their money

This project focuses on those elements which currently restrict and isolate blind and partially sighted people from making “cashless” electronic payments and identifies ways forward to remove these restrictions. Electronic payments are becoming essential components of paying for goods while shopping (both in-store and online) and purchasing tickets for travel, making it vital to ensure that blind and partially sighted people can use them independently.

1.1 ePayment Solutions – what they are

ePayment solutions refer to the transaction of goods or services using electronic payment means. This typically involves the use of computer networks, the internet and digital systems to transfer money electronically or digitally between two parties.

1.1.1 Contactless Payment systems

    Contactless payment systems, also known as "tap and go" or "wave and pay" is a method where a person pays for everyday items, by holding a transaction smartcard, key fob or other device near or on a locator. The transaction under a specified amount (e.g. £15) is normally completed with no need to sign or key a number into a keypad. The advantage of using this method is that the transaction process is generally much quicker than traditional payment methods.

    Contactless payment cards come in many forms:

  • Prepaid cards – these have a fixed amount of funds allocated to them such as the Oyster card, and are used as a form of electronic ticketing on public transport services within the Greater London area. These cards can be “recharged" from numerous sales points.

  • Mobile phones with Near Field Communications (NFC) - NFC phones or cards can be stocked up with credit and then used as payment. The user simply waves their phone over the reader and the payment is debited from their account or added to their credit card bill. When making larger payments, authorisation will be required. Unfortunately many of the mobile phones that are needed to do this are not widely available or accessible to blind and partially sighted people.

1.1.2 Chip and PIN

This is the method where people use credit and debit cards with a choice of a PIN or signature. These are widely available and there are many places where portable pin pad devices are used as the primary method of payment.

1.1.3 Self-service Kiosks

Self service kiosks are alternatives to the traditional staffed checkouts and are quickly becoming a common sight within retail settings. They are being installed with the purpose of replicating the advantages of online shopping in-store, streamlining in-store operation with the potential of freeing staff to focus on customers. Unfortunately today, the majority of kiosks rely on touch screen technology that is not accessible. There is concern that the personal touch and social interaction provided by checkout staff is being lost by self service kiosks.

1.1.4 Pre-paid/gift cards

    Pre paid/gift cards are transaction cards that have a fixed amount of funds credited to them. There is an increasing number of prepaid credit cards being launched and targeted at different groups at this time. Some are specifically targeted at teens and under 18’s who may not be eligible for a bank accounts, whilst others offer fully branded prepaid Visa or MasterCard’s with Chip & PIN capability with high value reload capabilities. They are marketed as a means to manage your spending more effectively as you can only spend the amount that credited on the card.

1.1.5 Mobile phone payment

Mobile phone payment or M-payment as it is referred to is a new and rapidly-adopted alternative payment method – especially in Asia, Africa and Europe. Instead of paying with cash, cheque or credit cards, a consumer can use a mobile phone to pay for a wide range of services and goods.

There are three primary models for mobile payments:

  • Premium SMS based transactional payments

  • Direct Mobile Billing

  • Contactless using Near Field Communication (NFC)

Premium SMS – This is where a payment request is sent via an SMS text message and a premium charge is applied to your phone bill. One example of this payment method is as follows:

“The user simply selects the items, takes these to the till and informs the cashier that they want to pay via SMS. The seller sends a payment request to the buyer with a text message, the buyer then keys in the PIN to approve the sale and responds to the seller's SMS. Once the transaction is complete, both parties receive an SMS receipt.”
An advantage of this method is that there is no loyalty program or special handset required and any regular bank account holder with a phone can send money.
Direct mobile billing – This is similar to SMS billing where the consumer uses a mobile billing option during checkout but differs because it uses an ecommerce mechanism to charge the payment to the mobile phone account used. After authentication involving PIN and Password, the consumer's mobile account is charged for the purchase.
Contactless using near field communications – This technology allows mobile phone handsets to be capable of completing transactions when the phone is waved in front of a reader.
Mobile phone applications - This method relies on web pages being displayed or additional applications downloaded and installed on the mobile phone to make a payment. It uses mobile internet as underlying technology and thus inherits all the advantages and disadvantages of narrowband internet. If the mobile account is not directly charged through a mobile network operator, the use of a credit/debit card or pre-registration at online payment solution such as PayPal is still required just as in a desktop environment.

1.1.6 Online payments

Whilst the ability to shop online to buy goods and services is an ePayment method, it generally involves using traditional solutions in terms of debit and credit cards to complete the transaction. However the mechanisms in place which facilitate these transactions are electronic in nature. Making a payment online could involve the following methods:

  • Direct debit/Standing order

  • Credit/debit card

  • 3rd party payment facilitator (e.g. PayPal)

As they are all web based, their accessibility is largely reliant on the providers making the sites conform to web accessibility guidelines.

Direct debits/standing order – These are both mechanisms which allow people to set up regular payments. Direct debits are usually initiated by the seller whereas standing orders are usually set up by the account holder. To use these online, a person needs to have access to their bank account online.
Credit/debit card – To use this method to buy goods and services require the buyer to input the card details into the website they are buying the goods from. This will involve providing the long card number, start date, end date, name on the card and security number on the back of the card. The website will usually have security measures to make sure the transaction is secure.
3rd party payment facilitator – These methods provide the means to send money electronically from one person to other or to a company where there is no ecommerce facility. A prime example is PayPal and eBay. The buyer can use PayPal (which holds the debit/credit card) to pay for goods through eBay. The seller receives the money and can then transfer it into their bank or keep it in their PayPal account to make further transaction.

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