Smart Money & Globe G-Cash: The Resurgence of Mobile e-Commerce
The "OLD" Smart Money Card and The "NEW" MasterCard-enabled Smart Money Card
Smart Communication's Smart Money tv ad has seen frequent airtimes in the past weeks. I was surprised to see such active promotion for this service these days since I seriously thought Smart has abandoned development of this feature in favor of other interests. For a time, Globe G-Cash has dominated the mobile e-Commerce arena since the long slumber of Smart Money following its breakthrough service in 2000. I was one of the few who signed up for that service four years after and even got myself a Smart SIM (although I have always been a Globe subscriber, prepaid and postpaid since 1999) because I really felt that that service would give me much convenience. Unlike Globe's G-Cash, Smart Money comes with a card. At that time, it was a MasterCard Electronic- enabled card which meant that you can also use it at POS (point of sale) terminals that carried the MasterCard Electronic logo. But unlike your usual credit card, if the store/establishment only accepts MasterCard (without the "Electronic"), your Smart Money card would be useless. Although I write about the Smart Money as if I've frequently used it, the fact of the matter is that I never got to use it. I still have it to this day, tucked in one of my wallet's forgotten pockets. The reason I never got to use it probably stems from the fact that in the early stages, mobile e-commerce wasn't really known mainstream. Smart Money logos and ads were all over the malls and restos but few people even cared to sign up for it, much less use it, even though they had it (like myself).
Even now, with Globe's G-Cash gaining popularity in online businesses and transactions such as Ebay and Multiply, it's still considered an unconventional method of payment, thus unpatronized specially by people who still aren't "connected" or "online". I remember, in one of my mall visits a few months back, I asked one SM Department Store sales lady if they accepted Globe G-Cash payments, the girl, initially stunned for a moment, responded with "I'm not sure." even though a few steps away was a poster that hung saying "Globe G-Cash payments accepted here". Funny, right? Well, I didn't want to believe that these people aren't aware of available payment options in their store so I decided to go to the cashier counter and asked the cashier instead. I thought, if there's anyone here who should know whether or not G-Cash is accepted here, it must be the cashier. But lo and behold, she said the same thing as the other lady. She doesn't know and even asked us to ask people from "Information". So I told myself, this is hopeless. How can they possibly put up a sign like that and not orient their people first? That's when it hit me, we are not yet ready for mobile e-commerce. A few months after that, I signed up for a new account in Multiply. I've had a personal Multiply account since August 2006 but wanted to give online commerce a chance so the best option was Multiply. I then set-up WhateverBuys.com. This is where I was able to put Globe G-Cash to good use. Globe G-Cash can have a load of at most, 40,000 pesos at any time, in excess of that amount, it has to be withdrawn. Almost all Multiply-based online biz accepted Globe G-Cash payments. It was fast, convenient and well, relatively secure. Then I started paying my Globe Handyphone postpaid bill using G-Cash followed by my Meralco bills. It really was convenient and payments arrived lightning-fast. That's how I use Globe G-Cash up until now. But even if it serves my purpose at the moment, a MasterCard-enabled option card is still something it lacks -- making payment dependent solely on mobile phones.
Smart Money's new card, re-launched with a bang, however, provides that needed feature. The formerly MasterCard Electronic symbol has been changed to MasterCard -- which means that now, a Smart Money card will be the ultimate debit card of choice for the highly-urbanized and highly-mobile consumer. I have yet to test this feature, though so I can't really say much about it. You can load it in amounts from 500 to 10,000 pesos max. Although, the information that reached me is convincing enough to make me sign up for it. It poses a question however, for the select few who have been using Bancnet's ATM card debit feature. Because if you think about it, why would you bother transferring your money from your ATM/savings account to the Smart Money card in order to use it to pay for products and services when you can easily use your ATM card's debit feature instead? Two words. MasterCard compatibility. If your ATM card/bank is not MasterCard-enabled, you can't use it as a debit card. From what I know, the difference of a debit card-enabled ATM card is that you don't have to encode your ATM PIN (personal identification number) anymore when you use it in POS terminals as opposed to regular ATM cards that would still require you for a PIN after the cashier swipes your ATM card.
The resurgence of mobile e-commerce looks promising at the moment, with more and more people being aware of its benefits. The only problem right now is the deep economic slump we're into. But discounting that fact, it seems safe to assume that right now, we are ready for mobile e-commerce. After all, 8 years is a lot of time. We have more matured and more informed consumers ready to try whatever's new, "in" and trendy -- but only if it suits their needs. The challenge for telcos right now is make these features work on a more practical manner that consumers would sign-up for features and services like this without reservations and optimistic of the many perks they'll get from being both "trendy" and "techno-savy". In with the new, out with the old.
Mobile e-commerce has finally arrived. Question is, are you ready for it? Or more aptly put, "will you jump into the bandwagon?". Let's hear what you have to say. Your comments are welcome.
** Disclaimer: This is NOT A PAID BLOG. I am in no way connected with either Globe or Smart. I blog this in the interest of informing the public. For veracity of information, it is always best to contact Globe Telecom or Smart Communications. **