Alumni Insights: Mobile Payments

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IMG_0634Have you used Google Wallet, M-Pesa, or Dwolla today?

During the Finance Academy session on April 11, we had the opportunity to hear from Jason Carlson about mobile payments. Mr. Carlson is a 2011 Tippie MBA and Henry Fund alum who earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Currently, Mr. Carlson is an MBA Management Associate at Citigroup in the consumer bank.

I find mobile payments to be an incredibly interesting topic, but perhaps that is from my passion for new technology that can make a difference, as well as my former ten-year-long career in IT.  Mobile payments have been around for a number of years, and yet there is no answer to exactly what form they will take as an established payment system going forward. However, it is definitely a subject that is having an impact all over the globe.

Mr. Carlson started the presentation by introducing us to M-Pesa, a money transfer and micro-loan mobile phone solution in Kenya. M-Pesa started out as just a micro-loan platform, but due to the availability of mobile phones in Kenya and the long distances to banks, the platform took off as a money transfer platform as well. Because there is a need for mobile payments in the developing world and not really a need in the developed world, mobile payments systems in the developing world are leap-frogging those in the developed world.

After walking through the As-Is payment system of merchants, card-acquiring banks, card networks, and issuing banks, Mr. Carlson described the companies that are trying to disrupt the existing system and create alternate payment systems. PayPal has been around for a number of years online, but is always now moving to Point-of-Sale payments as well. With over 110 million active users, PayPal has a strong customer base to support its efforts moving forward. In addition, newer solutions such as Square, LevelUp and Dwolla are also positioning themselves to disrupt the mobile payment system. Dwolla is a mobile payment system provider based out of Des Moines, IA, proving not all new tech start-ups are in Silicon Valley, Seattle or NYC.

Mr. Carlson also provided encouraging career advice. We have received career advice from speakers that are more recent alums, such as Mr. Carlson, and alums that are further along in their careers. The feedback is always helpful and insightful, but I found Mr. Carlson’s advice and feedback particularly resounding as I could relate to it from where I am in the full-time MBA program.

The Finance Academy speakers this semester have been fantastic. As students, we are very lucky to have such great speakers on campus on a weekly basis!

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About AJ Honoré