Barcelona Mobile POS Statement Confirms What Was Already Known

At a major industry conference in Barcelona this week, 14 significant telecom vendors pledged to support mobile POS as a part of a "new initiative," although there appears to be nothing new about the announcement at all.

The fourteen operators, which a joint news release says represents "more than 900 million mobile users," are Cingular Wireless (AT&T); China Mobile; KALL; KTF; MCI; MTN; NTT DoCoMo; Rogers Wireless; Smart Communications; Telenor, TeliaSonera; Telecom Italia; Turkcell, and Vimpelcom.

Also quoted in the statement is a MasterCard executive (Art Kranzley), who also applauded mobile payments in general without promising anything.

The core dispute behind the scenes is an ongoing battle between the credit card companies and the banks on one side and the telecom players on the other. Who gets to bill for these purchases? What services can be sold and by whom? What is the revenue split?

Tuesday's announcement not only does advance that argument, it steered clear of it completely. "There's clearly a lot of interest and potential in making payments for using mobile phones," said Jonathan Collins, a senior analyst with ABI Research who is based in London. "There's no groundbreaking news. It's simply a reiteration of the GSM operators' position."