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Feature Article

May 09, 2012

Vesta Parlays Mobile Payments Expertise into New Arenas

You may not be familiar with the name Vesta, but the company has been enabling monetary transactions for such major cellular carriers as AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile for years – in some cases more than a decade. Now the company is working to parlay its expertise in the payments space (particularly prepaid top-up services) into peripheral areas such as bill pay, mobile wallet, peer-to-peer payments, international top-up and international remittance. One of the company’s first moves on this front is the creation of an Android top-up application for T-Mobile.

So says Marshall Behling, vice president of business development at Vesta, who demonstrated the T-Mobile top-up interface, which displays the user’s account balance, refill history (so users can refill as they have in the past, if they like), and enables the user to put on his or her calendar a prompt for payment.

“It’s really simple,” says Behling.

Top-up accounts for the biggest share of mobile payment transactions made on cell phones today, he says. Vesta is keenly interested in helping cellular service providers target consumers that don’t have bank accounts, which includes 26 percent of the U.S. populace, he adds, noting this group is referred to as the unbanked (no bank account) or unbanked (those who had bank accounts that have been terminated by the bank). During a briefing this morning with MobilityTechzone, Behling displayed a slide of WalMart Money Services, which he says consumers have to come in to a WalMart retail location to use and activate debit credit cards. Generically (not through partnership with WalMart), this is the kind of thing Vesta wants to make available through the handset, he says.

Mentioning that prepaid is growing faster than post paid, Behling says that this kind of thing can happen as soon as the cellular service providers are ready, and without waiting for NFC-based handsets to be available. Once customers begin using their mobile devices as payment devices, he adds, the cellular service providers will find their services are even stickier, because most users don’t want to re-enter their billing information.

He adds that Vesta’s mobile wallet strategy leverages top-up user behavior and cards they already have on file; a single sign on; and contacts already on users’ handsets (so users can easily do transactions with those individuals).

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

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