Discussion around trusted service management (TSM) is now common in the world of NFC. It is interesting to reflect on the current rush within the industry to become a Trusted Service Manager and witness smaller companies (Davids) seeming to beat the larger organizations (Goliaths) to market in a bid to offer TSM services. Here I share my thoughts on why this is happening.
Firstly, what is a TSM? In essence, a TSM acts as a middle-man; coordinating the technical and business relationships of multiple stakeholders – mobile network operators (MNOs) and service providers such as banks, ticketing agencies and other issuing authorities – to deliver and maintain services on mobile devices.
David’s Window of Opportunity
As a new market, we are currently seeing a diverse range of stakeholders looking to undertake the role of a TSM, or to extend their existing service into mobile by adopting some of the trusted service management functionality in-house. This is creating a mobile services ‘land grab’ where some active parties are seeking to gain ‘first-mover’ advantage and become a key player in their mobile ecosystem, either in a particular geographic area or a specific vertical market. I believe that this competition will ensure that, in the vast majority of markets, we will see a multiple TSM model rather than any ‘super’ TSM dominating the NFC ecosystem. This will create a landscape comprising a number of industry players investing in the software and infrastructure that allows them to offer trusted service management services, while coexisting and interoperating together.
The current ‘land grab’, combined with the innate power struggle that comes with a competitive, open market is providing smaller companies with a window of opportunity due to their ability to make quick decisions and move forward. We have also seen a number of joint ventures and collaborations – such as Project Oscar in the UK and Six Pack (TRAVIK) in the Netherlands – that are running into regulatory barriers and are having to delay announcements, trials and launches. Smaller, independent players looking to become a TSM are able to move faster and bypass a certain amount of bureaucracy. This yields an interesting situation: smaller companies are able to establish themselves as a TSM and begin developing their offering and client base in the time that the larger players and joint ventures are working out other commercial and regulatory issues.
Whilst most of the ‘Goliaths’ will undoubtedly get to market eventually and have an impact on their mobile ecosystems, it will be interesting to note how much the more agile ‘Davids’ make of their first mover advantage and see if they can build upon their early ‘land grab’ of market share.
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