Ronnie05's Blog

The advent of Mobile point of sale transactions

Posted in Industry updates, The Technology Ecosystem by Manas Ganguly on April 14, 2009

I had in an earlier post covered the topic of mobile phone payments and phones that act as your wallet through the NFC (Near Field communications technology). http://technologyandtelecom.blogspot.com/2009/03/of-wallet-phones-and-mobile-payments.html

A significant development in this context was achioeved by the credit card major, VISA who have enabled the first mobile payment for a Point of Sale transaction, thus enabling the consumer to purchase an NFC enabled mobile device of the shelf and use that device to make the VISA pay wave enabled transaction at the point of sale instead of using their credit cards.This service waas launched in Malaysia early April 2009. Maxis Malaysia, Nokia, Maybank have collborated with VISA to offer its pay wave services on mobile devices. Initially this service is enabled in the Nokia 6212 handset and 1800 outlets in Malaysia.

The contactless chip embedded in the device will also power a number of additional functions, including a contactless transit application that enables Malaysian commuters to pay for charges while using metropolitan transit systems, bus terminals, highway toll gates and car park facilities at more than 3,000 contactless payment touch points throughout Malaysia. Maxis has branded these mobile payment services under the name Maxis FastTap.

Momentum for Visa Mobile Payments Continues to Grow

Visa is driving the convergence of two of the world’s most ubiquitous consumer products, 1.7 billion Visa cards and 4 billion mobile phones, by bringing its expertise in payments to the mobile industry. Over the last two years, Visa has worked closely with mobile network operators, handset manufacturers and financial institutions, merchants and technology provider to develop and commercialize mobile payments and related services. Recent Visa mobile payment activities include:

Visa announced last week that it is extending mobile payments to Singapore in partnership with Citibank Singapore Limited and MobileOne (M1). The Citi M1 Visa payWave payment trial on mobile devices marks the first program in Singapore where a mobile device will be used for payments at the point-of-sale. More than 750 merchant locations across Singapore are participating in the three-month pilot, which begins in May 2009. Up to 300 selected Citi M1 Visa Platinum account holders will be invited to join. Participating account holders will be provided a Nokia 6212 classic, the same NFC-enabled handset used in the commercial launch in Malaysia. Participating Citi M1 Visa Platinum account holders will be able to purchase an item at a Visa payWave merchant in Singapore simply by waving the mobile phone in front of a contactless reader at the point of sale.

In Canada, Visa, RBC, and Rogers Wireless have come together for the next phase of a mobile payment pilot, which will ultimately allow Canadians the flexibility to make purchases securely at the point of sale with a wave of their mobile phone. Designed to be a fast and convenient way for customers to pay for small purchases, pilot participants will be issued specially-equipped mobile phones that can simply be waved at Visa payWave-enabled checkout readers at select retail stores and quick-service restaurants in Toronto’s downtown core.

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Considerations on user interface design on Mobiles and Handhelds

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces by Manas Ganguly on April 14, 2009

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The “smart”ness of devices is a direct derivative of its functions, content and the multitude of uses it can be subjected to. Phones especially are now Cameras, PDAs, Gaming consoles, Browsing points, Navigation consoles, Social Networking devices, Music Juke boxes and more: all this rolled into one. However, the User Interface is the platform which integrates all these uses for the user in a neat package. UI was a lower order consideration element till not so long ago. However the UI today is increasingly becoming a differentiator in the Telecom space. Smart UIs take some smart thinking and have an elemnt of intutiveness built in to create the user “wow” effect. Here’s listing a few of my thoughts on UI designs:

1. Know your customer first: The first aspect of any UI is in terms of who is using it and for what purpose. This is critical in terms of adding the value add ons to the UI. Normally, a lot of back end research goes to zero down on users and usages. The UI then has to be customized for the particular user profile. For example: Gaming and Music can be supported on the same software versions (e.g S 60 for Nokia), but the UI has to be customized for a gaming freak versus a music listener.

2. Top Down in design: The UI design and development should begin from the fully loaded version instead of the base version. The functions and apps should be in a modular format, which can be removed from the fully loaded version to lighten it up for lower versions.
Examples of Modular formats: SMS + voice module, FM + MP3 Module, MP4 + Video Player module, Music Module(supports all music formats), Gaming Module, Navigation Module, Internet Browsing, RSS feeds module, Calendars and Organiser module, other apps.
This is also important from device memory and selection of relevant hardware and chipsets perspective.

3. The case for shortcuts–> Content/Context Specificity: If the device is for a particular use, then there should be hotkeys or shortcut keys on the panels or the UI to enable a one click access to the function. Normally phones have one key access to music, camera, internet etc. This establishes and supports the USP by customizing your UI around specific content/context.

4. Screen View: A judicious use of the small screen size is a high priority. Craming it up with too much information could reduce readability. (I have never managed to read those “X” line “how to” menus that keep popping up on the screen). In devices that need to support RSS feeds, it is important to balance the view in terms of visibility/readibility versus blocking out everything else in the background.

5.Scroll Conservation:It is essential that the main menu and the subsequent ones be customized so that the content viewing doesnot require a scroll down! Many users find the act of scrolling down on a menu view to be irritating. It also means that the menu is not sure what they are looking for in the first place and is not able to provide the required info in one screen.

6. Click Conservation: Similarly, the act of many clicks into menus, sub menus, prompts, functions and sub functions etc is avoidable. A few UIs require 6 or more (even 10 in exterem cases) clicks for the user to access a particular point in the system. You are clearly telling the user to sort your mess by navigation his way into your UI. There is no intutiveness and short route to the functions he so desires. It also shows that you dont know what your user is using your device for. A S 60 UI navigation path is 900 rows in lenght and some of these paths are 6 – 10 clicks long. The 900 statistic shows a diffuse focus in terms of device –> customer integration and the 6-10 click path shows UI inability to intuitively map its usage.

7. Intuitive Design: The intuitiveness of design is probably culture/ language/ region dependent. However there is a strong case of integrating user requirements with the UI and hardware of the device. (e.g: After a call to a new number, imagine one click “Save” option to “add to contacts”. On the other hand, imagine the path Options–> save as –> add to contacts. That is “one click” too many).

8. Energy Saving Options: Screens such as QVGA and TFT can be harsh on power. A UI should be able to switch off / stand by to save on power drainage when not in use for “x” minutes. Similarly, it should be able to close the apps which are open and are not being used in favour of conserving battery life.

9. Touch: A touch based UI needs to allow room for the “touch”. (That in fact necessitates 3 inch screens to accomodate for the fingers). The idea is not to cramp the screen with multitude of options and less space making the touch experience a very tedious one.

10. Use of smart animation: Smart animation to browse through the screens creates a pleasing effect. However, the animation if there is has to be easy and light on the device memory resources.
11. Customizable front screen: The option to customize the front screen (is already present in high end devices) is to be given to the consumer. The idea is to give him a direct access to the apps /functions he uses 80% of the times. The option to pick up the “Favoruites” can also be provided to the UI if the consumer so wishes it.

These are a few generic principles to be kept in mind in UI designing for Handheld devices and mobiles. The ultimate objective is to make the browsing and navigation experience on the device to be a “Wow”.

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