PChome launches Pi mobile wallet payment service

14 May

PChome Online, Taiwan’s top e-commerce firm, launched its mobile-payment service Pi mobile wallet on May 13. The digital wallet allows consumers to make payments or transfer up to NT$1,000 (US$32.60) in each transaction with a virtual credit card via a mobile app that requires only the mobile phone number of the money receiver and a set of transaction passwords. The target market consists of social media users and small-transaction C2C offline trade.

Pi mobile wallet’s creators developed the payment system to meet the demand for alternative payment choices from social media users and small-transaction C2C e-commerce, said Han Kun-chu, Pi’s chief operating officer. “Before Pi mobile wallet, these consumers were only able to use traditional ATM transfers to complete their transactions,” he said. “There were no alternative services which were more convenient and safer. This is why we created Pi mobile wallet.”

The 3 main features of Pi Mobile wallet

Pi Mobile wallet has 3 principal features. One is that commerce is conducted via mobile phone numbers. Both parties involved in a transaction need to know each other’s mobile phone numbers and use Pi mobile wallet to complete the transaction. Compared to a traditional or online ATM transfer, Pi mobile wallet is faster.

The second key feature of Pi mobile wallet is that it allows users to communicate in real time. A buyer and seller can use the platform to discuss any element of a transaction at their convenience, whether shipping, the condition of goods, or something else.

Thirdly, Pi mobile wallet is extremely safe. In addition to incorporating PCI DS, the industry standard for payment safety, it also has a risk monitoring system. This system acts in real time to detect any unusual activity in a transaction.

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The photo above a mobile screen shot of Pi mobile wallet. In order to use Pi mobile wallet, you must first enter your credit card or debit card information into the system. You need then to enter the other party’s mobile phone number. The registered name for the number you entered will show up automatically. The messaging function provides a platform for real-time conversations.

Using Pi mobile wallet to make and collect payment

A user can add up to 6 credit cards that he or she owns to the Pi mobile wallet app. When a seller receives a payment, he or she can transfer the money to his or her bank account for a fee of NT$7 per transfer. Alternatively, sellers can choose to first collect a number of payments and transfer a number of them at once to pay lower transaction fees.

On every C2C transaction, Pi mobile wallet charges the buyer a 2% fee, which is different from traditional e-commerce, in which only the seller is charged. But there is a reason for this. In traditional C2C offline commerce, buyers have to use an ATM to transfer payment and are charged per transaction, so there is precedent.

At the same time, Pi mobile wallet charges sellers a 2% fee for B2C transactions.

The limit per transaction is 1000 and it is only suitable for long-distance payments. Will this lower the practicality of Pi mobile wallet?

At a press conference held by Pi mobile wallet, many reporters were skeptical about the payment platform, after learning the limit per transaction is NT$1,000. But Han Kun-chu said many small-scale transactions in Taiwan are below that amount, and he presented data from Taiwan Mobile backing up this assertion. The data from Taiwan Mobile show 88% of small-scale transactions in Taiwan are below NT$1,000.

Additionally, some observers assert that Pi mobile wallet is convenient only for C2C trade conducted in the cloud, and not suitable for transactions conducted in close proximity, such as friends splitting a bill in a restaurant. Critics of the payment platform also argue that when consumers are in a store, they will not bother to open the app, enter the store’s phone number and PIN and then finish the transaction process..

Han said that the Pi mobile wallet team intends for the platform to be used in stores, but currently there are no solutions for transactions conducted in close proximity.

During the trial period, only CTBC card owners can use Pi mobile wallet. From July, the app will be open to all banks.

Holders of CTBC credit or debit cards can download the Pi mobile wallet app and use it right away. All other bankcard holders will be able to use Pi mobile wallet from July. During the trial period, the transaction fee will be waived.