How the mobile web could change the world economy

Those of us living in North America may find banking inconvenient, but it can be far worse in the developing world, assuming there even are banks.

However, an Ottawa company is helping address this shortcoming.

Telepin Software has created a platform that allows cellphone users to transfer money from cellphone to cellphone – for example, someone could pay their friend back for covering a cup of coffee by sending money to their cellphone.

As many developing nations lack telephone landline infrastructure, many are going straight to wireless towers which is pushing cellphone adoption rates.

“It’s like transferring airtime,” said Telepin Software president Vince Kadar.

Kadar was speaking on the “Open Mobile” panel at the Canadian Venture Capital Association’s annual conference.

The panelists discussed potential changes in the global economy created by the mobile Internet.

By itself, the Internet has already disrupted a number of industries like record labels and newspapers. But add in the portability of an always accessible web and even banks start to get disrupted.

“It’s not just duplicating what we can do in a fixed location,” said Columbia Capital partner Harry Hopper. “Mobile devices are now doing things unique to the devices.”

According to panel moderator and managing director of Panorama Capital Chris Albinson, the release of the iPhone began getting consumers to take to the web on their mobiles like never before and the recently released iPad will bring even more people on board.

“I think it’s going to be based on user experience,” said Pierre Donaldson of Blackberry Partners Fund and JLA Ventures.

“The easier it gets, the more users will adopt it.”

Though, many of the technologies increasing the adoption of the mobile web like improved mobile browsers and app stores are turning the wireless infrastructure into a so-called “dumb pipe.”

That’s a title that Alek Krstajic, CEO of the recently launched wireless provider Public Mobile embraces.

“Being a pipe isn’t a bad thing,” he said.

However, he is cautious about his optimism regarding economic gains from disrupting established businesses, nothing that malls still haven’t killed Main Street retail.

“The streets are littered with ideas that were bleeding edge and not leading edge.”