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Microsoft moves into the mobile payments world

Payments News dropped me a note last week about Microsoft tags. 

The basic idea is that you snap a picture of a tag using your mobile camera, and it then automatically links to the URL that the tag represents. 

If you want to try it, snap a picture of the tag below which should link you to this blog:


If you have any difficulties, here's the details from Microsoft that explains how this works:

"Microsoft Tags are small,
colorful codes that can be printed, stuck, or displayed just about anywhere. When you
snap a Tag with the camera on your internet-enabled phone, additional information or
experiences are automatically opened on your phone. There is no fumbling with URLs or
texting short codes. Microsoft Tags can make product packages, posters, print-based
ads, magazine articles, exhibit signage, billboards, storefronts, business card, or
just about anything else, interactive.

"Q. How does Microsoft Tag work?

"The Microsoft Tag Reader uses your mobile phone’s camera to capture a Tag. On some phones, you merely need to aim your camera at the Tag. On other phones, you’ll aim and then click.
The Tag is decoded, and the action associated with the Tag, such as opening your phone’s browser and displaying a specific web page, takes place. Microsoft Tag requires an Internet connection to work, and normal data charges apply.

"Q. What type of phones will Tag work with?

"The Microsoft Tag Reader is available for most smartphones and many feature phones. It is available on Windows Mobile, J2ME, iPhone, Blackberry, and Symbian S60 phones. Of course, your phone needs a camera and it must have Internet-access."

There's loads more about the tag over at Microsoft's website.

The reason I'm adding to the alert on this, is that this potentially offers a revolution for Microsoft into the payments world.

For example, since 2004, the Japanese have been using their cameraphones to get discounts and access to services, including payments, through these sorts of tags.  For example, here's a story about Amazon Japan that illustrates.

These are actually Quick Response (QR) Codes, invented by Japanese firm Denso-Wave back in 1994.

In 2006, DoCoMo started using QR codes for mobile payments and, more recently, I've seen these codes over here in Europe.

So we have a possible new way of paying using mobile that is quick, easy and simple, and accessible for over 100 million mobile users today.

What intrigues me is why would Microsoft get into the QR Code space unless they want to be the standard for this?  And, if they do become the standard, have they inadvertently created the new de facto standard for mobile payments?

I wonder …

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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