You may have noticed epay machines in retail stores or gas stations when trying to buy prepaid cards – if the cashier punched some numbers into a machine and gave you a paper receipt with your PIN instead of the card, then there’s a good chance he used an E-pay machine.
At first look that doesnt seem like an Amaana competitor but I’ll mention in a bit the strength of what they have.
Whats important though, is that their initial focus on selling prepaid time from telecos over a retail footprint seems to have paid off in that they claim to be making nearly $10M annually… money that they can now spend on building a deeper micro-transaction framework.
Here’s some of the things e-pay can now try to do on top of their platform:
One of the things the company claims to do is direct balance transfer across operators – I’m not clear on how that would work, but they claim that a Mobilink subscriber can send balance to Telenor through them, e.g.
One of the next things they could try to introduce to support ecommerce is pre-paid pay-cards for websites. So you’re planning on buying something online – you might be able to do the transaction online, but the item wouldnt be shipped to you until you went to your closest convenient store and paid for the item to an epay terminal – that’s still a step closer to shopping via retail itself.
Mobile payments itself just becomes an additional interface on top of the retail machines, so I dont think introducing them would be a problem – but their advantage of having a deep retail network will always trump an online-only solution. For example, "withdrawing" funds out of your virtual account, in the case of epay, could also be as simple as going to their nearest retail branch, and not having to wait for or deal with checks as in the case of Amaana.
The competitive micro-transactions market is heating up and its good to see these innovations come to play, but we would still have to see who can be the first to significantly introduce ecommerce friendly solutions.