The Mobile World Congress is the premiere mobile payments gathering in the world. Hosting more than 67,000 attendees from 205 countries in 2012, the conference brings together an incredible number of executives, innovators and established players in the mobile industry from every corner of the globe.
According to Mung Ki Woo, group executive of mobile at MasterCard, it’s that global reach and appeal that makes the Mobile World Congress so special.
“I think one of the great things about Mobile World Congress is that it’s not only the largest mobile conference and exposition by size, but also by reach. People from all areas of the world are converging in Barcelona next week,” Woo said. “It’s fantastic that the GSMA is able to convene such a large group of people who recognize the powerful role mobile is playing in shaping our future.”
PYMNTS.com spoke with Woo about MasterCard’s involvement with Mobile World Congress, how mobile payments function in all areas of the world, and why mobile is so integral to MasterCard’s vision of “a world beyond cash.”
During Day Two of MWC, MasterCard will be hosting one of the conference’s premier events: the MasterCard Mobile Payments Global Symposium. Designed to “showcase the leaders and industry influencers driving the mobile payments discussion around the world,” the symposium will consist of five regional sessions for Latin America, Middle East/Africa, Asia/Pacific, North America, and Europe. Each session will feature a panel discussion on the key regional challenges, as well as insight and examples from those on the ground in each region today.
Woo says it’s that first-hand experience that should make the symposium special.
“Mobile payments is not a theoretical exercise; it’s really happening,” Woo points out. “Companies are deploying services, recruiting customers and merchants, and driving transactions. And these are the programs and success stories we wanted to spotlight with the people attending Mobile World Congress – by inviting those people who are really doing it to talk about their different projects. It’s going to be very interesting to understand how each region is approaching things slightly differently.”
Woo also said that MasterCard will have a suite of products and services on display (Booth 5G80) at the congress that will cover the “three domains” of mobile payments: smartphones, mobile POS and “mobile money” for the underbanked. Those domains exist in different combinations in different regions, and Woo gave examples of each.
“North America is clearly smartphones and mobile POS. Africa is much more mobile money and mobile POS. And then in regions like Asia Pacific, where you have a combination of very developed economies like Singapore and Taiwan, and emerging countries like Indonesia and Vietnam, we’re deploying all three types of capabilities,” Woo said.
Finally, Woo noted that between the focus on technologies that digitize money and the global audience, Mobile World Congress provides a perfect forum for which MasterCard to enhance its vision of “a world beyond cash.”
“We have always said that we are extremely excited by introduction of mobile payments, because we think that by combining the new mobile channel with our existing plastic card channel, were going to increase the rate of penetration of electronic payments, we’re going to decrease the utilization of cash,” Woo said. “That’s the ultimate objective that we’re pursuing.”
Mung Ki Woo
Group Executive Mobile for Mastercard
Mung Ki Woo is Group Executive of Mobile. In this role, he is responsible for leading the development and commercialization of mobile payment product platforms and solutions around the globe that create a sustainable competitive advantage for MasterCard and its customers.
Woo joined Mastercard in January 2011. Previously, Woo was Vice-President Electronic Payments & Transactions at France Telecom – Orange, one of the largest telecoms operator in the world with retail operations in 32 countries. There he led the development of the “Orange Money” mobile payment program, which at the end of 2010 was commercially available in 6 African countries. He was also responsible for commercial deployment of Orange’s mobile contactless services in their major European markets.
Prior to joining FT-Orange, Woo was Chief Technical Officer of a French interbank organization specialized in electronic money systems. Before that, he managed a consulting practice at a French IT firm (Devoteam), having started his career at Thales working on large defense communication programs for the UK armed forces.
Woo is a graduate of Ecole Polytechnique and Telecom ParisTech.