Twenty years ago, I had the honour of serving as Mobey Forum’s first Chair of the Board, a position I held for four years. Since then, I have followed the association’s progress very closely, and witnessed a true success story unveil. As a commercially neutral, non-profit association with collaboration at its heart, Mobey’s long-term success can be attributed to its diverse members and their dedication to shaping the future of digital financial services. Looking back over the last twenty years, the association has evolved from humble beginnings into a globally recognised association.
The early days
The roots of the association began to grow when mobile banking started to emerge in the 1990s. The introduction of simple SMS balance reporting, bill payments and eventually a broader e-banking service stack in Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) phones, started to generate unparalleled transformation within the banking and financial services industry.
WAP quickly ignited the ‘Internet-in-your-pocket’ vision and prompted many industry leaders to seriously consider how we could make the transition easier for consumers. At Merita Bank (now Nordea) and Nokia, we realised that an open, global forum presented a much-needed solution. We needed a global association where likeminded banks, handset manufacturers and other enterprises could work together towards a common goal for the greater good of customers and society at large.
The founding members
The calibre of Mobey’s founding members confirmed the genuine necessity for a new association with collaboration at its core. Mobey’s founding members include ABN-Amro, Banco Santander, Barclays Bank, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Ericsson, HSBC, Merita Bank, Motorola, Nokia, SEB, UBS and Visa.
In the early years, Mobey grew rapidly through the addition of new members and we started to explore a broader variety of topics affecting the banking industry. The association’s consistent growth today continues to reaffirm the relevance of a commercially neutral environment where members can share experiences, ideas and define best practice.
Prioritising the consumer
From the very beginning, Mobey has focused heavily on driving initiatives which improve the consumer experience and most importantly, make consumer interactions with banks easier. The Mobey community strongly held the view that the consumer should be able to choose any bank, any handset and any operator for e-banking, remote and proximity payments, eID, e-invoicing and other services – and be able to switch from one to another without it impacting the other services. The alternative was described as a ‘walled garden’ and would obviously have limited choices, competition and adoption.
Another example was inspired by the multifunctional chipcard trend, as it was perceived as a natural choice to have a bank-issued payment and ID card (SIM-format) within the phone. Prototype handsets were produced and worked quite well, but challenges in the handset market took the attention away from this concept.
In countless instances, the Mobey community has acted as both a visible and invisible influencer, spreading ideas, promoting open interfaces and thinking deeply about the future. Many of Mobey’s members have commented that the association is a very cost-efficient way to stay close to emerging trends and solutions. Our members can gain early insight into potential disruption and stay ahead of the curve.
Looking to the future
It’s poignant that Mobey celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2020, a year which has brought events which have been truly unpredictable and unforeseen. Throughout this year and beyond, the association remains on hand to support members and help navigate the evolving circumstances of the pandemic.
As we look towards 2021, there are a number of important trends and opportunities on the horizon. The most significant from my perspective is the data driven economy (a topic which I am exploring in great detail with MyData). GDPR is already promising that EU citizens can have their data where they need it, and the real-time economy is producing huge amounts of structured, standardised, verified – and increasingly towards real-time data. By using open source and interfaces based on the global Trust over IP stack, it will be possible to create new national data infrastructures – ‘public-private data highways’ – that are interoperable across borders. Only this will enable the holistic all-data-for-services environment. The key message for banks should be: “Do not just serve your customer – serve their life events!”
Finally, it has been a true privilege to be a part of the Mobey community for two decades and I congratulate our talented and energetic executives, Board of Directors and Mobey team on this important anniversary. I very much look forward to the next chapter.
Coming up: Look out for the next blog in Mobey’s 20th anniversary series as key members of the association continue to share their personal experiences and highlights from the past two decades.