Monday, May 21, 2012

Will Swedish Swish be a slam dunk? This new Nordic mobile banking service enables immediate money transfers among individuals.

Swish website (in Swedish) >>

The best defense is a good offense.

A group of Scandinavian banks have just introduced a mobile person-to-person finance service in Sweden called "Swish." Cool name. Will it score with consumers?

Swish enables individuals to transfer money to other Swish users in real time. Swish uses bank accounts together with mobile numbers as user identifiers, which should make the service secure. One use case shown several times on Swish's website is payment for second-hand items: a bike, a chair, etc. Rather than bringing cash to pay for such items, an immediate bank transfer can be made between the buyer and seller. The Swish website also proposes its service as a convenient way to borrow money and repay loans among friends and family.

Most of the major Swedish banks are partners in Swish: Danske Bank (Sverige), Handelsbanken, Länsförsäkringar, Nordea, SEB, Swedbank, och Sparbankerna, yet some large banks are still missing as are regional banks. Swish offers its app for the iPhone and Android-based smartphones. (Windows Phone, Symbian, and BlackBerry devices continue to be left out in the cold and could give Swedish consumers one more reason not to avoid those platforms.) The service goes live autumn of 2012.

To be clear, Swish is certainly not unprecedented and in some ways shows how banks have fallen behind in innovation as services such as Bump and PayPal among others have taken the imagination initiative. And many developing markets have now leap-frogged Western markets when it comes to mobile finance.

There are no details given on the pricing of the service other than a note that each bank will price it as they see fit. Swish is a solution for a very marginal problem, and the fact that it can't be used to make payments at any commercial locations means that the only right price for the service is free.

Services like Swish brings us no closer to the mobile wallet. That's still a long-term wish.

Nice intentions. But will services like Swish be a slam dunk?

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