Bang goes anonymous m-commerce

What if you could access items of content from content providers, but not have to keep logging-on each time? Now this might sound like the idea behind Microsoft's .NET Passport with one account for all online services, but this is different.

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Bang goes anonymous m-commerce
What if you could access items of content from content providers, but not have to keep logging-on each time? Now this might sound like the idea behind Microsoft's .NET Passport with one account for all online services, but this is different.

Firstly it's for mobile phone users.

This week Bango.net announced Bango Fingerprint, which provides a unique identity aimed at smoothing the communication between a mobile user and a mobile site that offers content. This identity or fingerprint can be used in a similar way to which a website and browser might use cookies. This means a content provider can automatically authenticate a returning user, and even provide some continuity services such as managing a 'shopping basket' of multiple items being purchased.

All well and good you may say, but what about my privacy?

Bango themselves hold the fingerprint tokens on their server, and these tokens don't reveal the user's name or phone number to the content provider, just the fact that you're the same user who was there earlier. Bango accounts also provide access to a variety of billing services for content providers, so this is really an extension of that facility. Again, the content providers don't access the user's billing information directly, they just get to know if they're good for the money.

What about fraud?

From the content providers perspective they can see if the fingerprint is valid and even double check over the air with Bango. Users have to be careful, but no more so that usual. The fingerprint uses the unique id of the phone in conjunction with checking the route from the operator's gateway, so is tied to the SIM.

Of course if a phone is lost or stolen there is the possibility of fraudulent use until reported and barred, when the Bango account would be frozen. However, the average Bango account balance is around 40p, so in the event of phone theft or loss, it's likely that losses from fraudulent expensive calls would be the larger concern.

So why is this important?

Firstly it's a slicker and more friendly user experience, and secondly, from the content providers' viewpoint, they can offer a personalised service, because they recognise who's coming back. Not from their true identity, but on their buying patterns with that content provider. They can concentrate on marketing and how best to generate returns from their content.

But ultimately it's important because if mobile commerce is to succeed, it has to be convenient. Anil Malhotra, one of the founders and VP of marketing and strategic alliances at Bango states, "It's not the quality of the product that prevents a sale, it's how easy or difficult it is to make the purchase." That's a challenge for a mobile user, where the screen is tiny, and user interface navigation can be tedious.

Ringtone provider, Phunkyphones, has already adopted Bango's Fingerprint, and with many other mobile content providers looking for ways to increase revenues, there are sure to be others.


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