Mobile Payments and Virtual Currencies: The Emergence of the New Mobile Products and Services - Intro PDF Print E-mail
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Master Thesis in Communication Studies – New Media and Society in Europe

Abstract

The following Master thesis is build upon three core thematic pillars: the business models for mobile payments, the concept of virtual currencies, and the choice for the implementation of the first two within business models for the creation of new products and services for mobile.

The thesis explores how the rapid development of mobile ICTs influences the different stakeholder groups and the creation of new business opportunities for mobile.

A key aim is the discovery of the driving forces, responsible for the choice of the concrete m-payment method, the related technology and the respective payment medium allowed – both conventional and virtual currencies. This choice is the natural basis in the development of the business models for the creation of new products or services for mobile.

Several examples of products and services for mobile using m-payments and/or virtual currencies from the EU market landscape would be overviewed. Two Belgian business models for new services will be explored. The first the Belgian case study will look into the already commercial service, while the second one is looking into the currently developed business model for a new service to be introduced in the coming 2 years.

I.       Introduction

Many social scientists define the social construct of today and the last decades as the one of the Information Society. Despite of the numerous and often strongly varying definitions, overall the theories yet remain always within the context of the human society and information technology. However, only few of these many attempts to explain what actually the Information Society [1] is, can properly reflect the changes in the understanding of interconnectedness, interdependencies and innovations from the past decade brought up by the Mobile Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

It is important to grasp that the emergence and further vast development of the mobile ICT was the result of mutually influencing factors within a cyclic process of bringing change. The human needs, desires and the innovation capacity and drive altogether were among the leading factors for the deployment of a new set of converging technologies, part of the global network, being the wireless telephony technologies, which completely changed and are still changing the ideas for the identification of physical and virtual realms of location, time, social affiliation, connectivity and identification. In addition the globalization reflected on the society, states and organization not only in the increased ability and possibility to physically cross-borders but also in the mental mind-shift of the humans.

The term “Mobile Communication Society” slowly began to replace the “Information Society” both in terms of theories and practice. When Motorola and Bell operated the first commercial mobile telephone service MTS in the US in 1946, few could have expected the forthcoming developments. The creation of Internet as we know it was one of the main reasons for the huge change of perceptions of what mobile is and what major part it has in the human’s life. The convergence of telecommunications and IT leads to the development of new perception regarding mobile for the society and the business. This new perception reflected into placing new roles in the functions mobile has such as the ones related to the users’ ability to conduct purchases without cash while being on the move, or the ability to make such transfers without even using a traditional currency.

Before new services and/or products based on m-payments could be launched, it is crucial to understand what previous studies have discovered about the acceptance of m-payments methods, systems and currencies and about mobile services markets. It is also important to be determined what issues have remained unresolved and which of them could turn into key bottlenecks in regards of the further market development. This will be examined in the following chapters with the goal to present successful innovative products and services’ examples from Europe and Belgium in particular, based on specific m-payments and concepts of currencies.

The following Master thesis will first study the developments of mobile ICTs and the way it affects the different stakeholders. Second, it will propose an in-depth focus on the developments and trends related to the m-payments technologies in particular and separately from that look into the introduction of new, nonconventional currencies. Third, how this two leading themes affect and influence the creation of new business models based on the usage of m-payments and a combination of new and old systems of exchange will be examined. Some of the most innovative examples from the EU and Belgium in particular will be presented.

In the coming Chapter II the current mobile paradigm development and the different points that affect it will be outlined within a theoretical perspective. First, the reasoning behind the concept about the rapid expansion and development of mobile, the appearance of m-commerce and m-payments in particular will be presented. Afterwards, the concept of nonconventional currencies in relation to the m-payments further development and focus in the situation specifically in the EU will be introduced. The borders blurring between virtual money and conventional currencies, lead by the creation of new e-business models and strategies with a focus on mobile and their impact leading to the consideration of new policies and regulations, will be studied.

In Chapter III the methodology, chosen for this research, will be explained from analytical, empirical and critical perspective.

In Chapter IV State of Art of currencies, with a special focus on new virtual currencies and of the building blocks of the m-payment business model will be presented and examined.

In Chapter V the Challenges and Opportunities, resulting from the implementation of m-payments and virtual currencies are examined.

In Chapter VI an overview of European case studies will be made. Two case studies from Belgium will be identified and analyzed on the basis of their business models. The aim is the differences and similarities in the functioning of varying business models based on m-payments and conventional or virtual currencies to be demonstrated and validated.

Chapter VII will contain final a conclusion on the key findings. The aim is the creation of basic forecasts and recommendations for the future developments of business models based on m-payments and conventional and/or virtual currencies.

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