Crandy – The Dark Horse of Mobile Payments

Don’t worry, I will write about other stuff soon, but here’s another interesting story about mobile payments.

Crandy is the first independent
company in Europe to be issued with an E-Bank Licence. This allows them
to operate a mobile payment system and believe me, these things aren’t
easy to get hold of. They’re a German operation, though their website
is in English, French, Spanish and Turkish too, which gives an idea of
their ambitions.

Their major success so far has been in Germany, with 200,000 users,
largely driven by word of mouth as the mainstream press seems intent on
ignoring them. What’s also weird is that despite their relative success
and apparently excellent product, I’ve never heard of them until some of
their people left a comment on my blog. Is it just me, or has anyone
else heard of them? Please leave a comment.

Anyway, Crandy allows you to do a number of things with your mobile.

You can transfer money to other Crandy users and top up your prepay
card, from your phone. These are very important services. Partly, as
they drive recruitment of members organically. But partly, as they
cover the time lag between recruiting a member base and having
merchants on board – there’s no point in having a payment method that
you can’t use while everyone waits for merchants to be arrive.

However, increasingly, you’ll be able to use Crandy to pay at vending
machines and parking meters. And to purchase mobile content. They even
allow users cheap phone calls and sms.

So, do they pass Buckley’s First Law of Mobile Payments:

If the transaction process is any more complicated than using a credit card or cash, it will never succeed.

Let’s take, as an example, paying at a vending machine. Here’s what you do:

– You dial or sms the telephone number of the machine
– Select the product you want
– If you have sufficient credit, the machine dispenses it

Yep, I’d say that passes Buckley’s Law.

The operation uses real money ie it’s not deducted from your phone bill.
You have an account, which you can top up – automatically from your
bank account if you wish. So that seems easy to use too.

Oh and it has a Java version.

I’m going to have a deeper look around, but for now, I’d say it has
most of the features of a winner in this space, including being
incredibly cheap (or free) to use, cutting the mobile operator
completely out of the value chain. If it takes off, it’s going to do
real damage to Premium SMS.

One to watch, definitely.

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