Banks are making moves to take a bigger role in shaping worldwide mobile-payments technology standards as momentum in the sector builds.

The timing of such moves could be crucial if they give banks more say in how mobile payments develop instead of them trailing behind the initiatives of card networks, telcos and merchants, experts say.

Mobey Forum, a global bank-led industry association that promotes mobile financial services, on May 14 announced it has joined the Trusted Computing Group Industry Liaison Program to increase banks' voices in developing mobile payments security standards.

"The current security standards for mobile devices lack the perspective of financial institutions, and their specific needs for mobile payments and mobile banking," Ron van Wezel, Mobey Forum board chairman, said in a press release. Van Wezel also serves as director of emerging payment streams at Deutsche Bank.

Joining forces with the computing group will "help to accelerate deployment" and broadly encourage global mobile-payment implementation, he added.

Mobey Forum, a nonprofit organization, earlier this year released a roadmap for developing global mobile digital wallets (see story).

The Canadian Bankers Association also on May 14 unveiled voluntary guidelines for banks and credit unions adopting mobile payments at the point of sale.

The guidelines, known as the Mobile Reference Model, will serve as a blueprint for how financial institutions, payment card companies, telcos and merchants offer mobile payments in the Canadian market, including specifics of how the various parties will exchange information, the association said in a press release.

The 133-page document outlines a vision statement and guiding principles, including how financial institutions and mobile-payments players may work together to develop mobile NFC devices and enabling technologies that are easy to use, speedy and secure (see document).

Canada's banks developed the guidelines in response to the federal government's Task Force for the Payments System Review, which last year called for industry cooperation in developing fair, transparent and competitive mobile payments.

Participants developing the guidelines include major Canadian banks Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank, BMO Financial Group, National Bank, CIBC, Bank of Nova Scotia and Credit Union Central of Canada.

The American Bankers Association has a task force at work discussing key issues for industry cooperation to move mobile payments forward, Steve Kenneally, vice president for regulatory compliance, tells PaymentsSource.

The association last fall formed the Payment Systems Task Force, a group comprised of several CEOs and top executives at U.S. banks that held one meeting and a half-dozen telephone conferences so far as it moves toward identifying key issues, Kenneally says.

The group has not yet determined whether it will produce a white paper, a set of guidelines or some other document for U.S. mobile-payments development, he says.

"It is a complex issue, and we want to ensure that whatever we come up with doesn't infringe on existing business models," Kenneally says. "Our key goal is to protect the integrity of the payments system."

As mobile-payments projects begin to coalesce, banks are seeing their opportunity to assume a more central role in guiding policy, Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the U.S.-based Smart Card Alliance, tells PaymentsSource.

"I wouldn't say banks have been laying back, but so far there have been no broad, organized efforts to engage banks in developing mobile-payment standards," he says. "Banks are joining the conversation with the mobile-network operators and forming alliances in ventures like Isis," he noted, suggesting also that banks lead their own industry initiatives.

"I see these moves as a way for banks to come up with common values and best practices they could use to influence the technology providers and mobile operators, rather than the other way around," Vanderhoof says.

Though banks are in the very early stages of shaping mobile-payment products, they should be "talking to other banks and share information about how they can work together" to enhance their collective mobile payments efforts, Vanderhoof says.

"All the various other parties are doing it, with the card networks, the mobile networks and the merchants each focused on their own goals,” he says. “Banks need to form their own groups to come to agreement and learn from one another."

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