Friday, March 18, 2005

E-money: yes, but how will it happen?

Last few days the very famous Digital Money Conference of Consult Hyperion took place. Bits and pieces of the discussions are now scattered over the web:
Silicon for example reports:

Speaking at the Consult Hyperion Digital Money Forum in London today, Monika Hartmann of the European Central Bank's e-money observatory said that 0.1 per cent of cash in circulation in January 2005 is electronic. "It cannot be called such a big success," she said. According Hartmann, e-cash can't take off until providers crack the issue of how an individual could repay the fiver he borrowed from a friend without having cash: "We have observed at European level that e-purses proved more successful in some countries than others - Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg.... There's a lot of person to person schemes coming up. If we had more peer-to-peer capability, it would be thrilling."

And the EPSO-news bulletin in turn quotes David Birch:
Banks gave the electronic purse a try back in the 1990s, but largely abandoned their efforts when the products failed to gain any real traction in the marketplace. But new technology means that the e-purse is back again with more potential for success, and it isn't only banks that are playing with it, says David Birch, a director at Consult Hyperion. Gift cards and prefunded brand cards issued by Starbucks and 7-Eleven are, he says, proving very successful in the United States (gift cards are reported to account for more than 8% of retail transaction value in the United States already), with hybrid cards (i.e. prepaid debit and credit cards) in the United States forecasted to have more than a third of the e-purse market by 2007, according to TowerGroup. Contactless payment and electronic ticketing systems (such as Oyster in London and Octopus in Hong Kong) are proving particularly effective on transport networks. More and more organisers of concert, sporting and other events around the world are also opting for these systems. Contactless payment services offer, among other things, speed and convenience and, according to David Birch, the next few years may well see prepaid and pre-authorised contactless (i.e., e-purse) volumes surpass debit card volumes.
and refers to this Finextra article.