Paying It Forward
By Jerry Soverinsky
So what, exactly, concerns you most about mobile payments? Is it the tech thing, a feeling that it€™s out of your sphere, and something you need to tolerate rather than direct?
Or is it the price tag? Surely that has you thinking about just how much €" all in €" this is going to cost. POS hardware isn€™t cheap, and with competing players involved, does that mean you€™ll have to double or even triple your investment down the road?
And most important, will your customers even use the thing? Are you going to spend all the time and effort necessary to become an early adopter or driver of the technology only to see your investment go the way of the Betamax tape or floppy disk?
We€™re talking €" again €" about mobile payments. And the question remains: What will you do?
Much has transpired since the May NACS Magazine feature on mobile payments:
- In late May, Google introduced Google Wallet. "Today, we€™ve joined with leaders in the industry to build the next generation of mobile commerce," said Stephanie Tilenius, vice president, commerce and payments at Google, in announcing the product and the 20 merchants (Subway, Walgreens and Toys R Us, among others) committed to working with the system.
- By the end of May, Google Wallet was in a live testing phase, with full-scale deployment rumored for late summer.
- In June, Isis announced the rollout of its mobile commerce program in Austin, Texas, for the first half of 2012 (Isis also announced Salt Lake City, Utah, as another test market for early 2012).
- In July, Isis expanded its partnership to include Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, the first mobile payments venture to include all four major card companies.
- In August, Google bought Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.
- Visa has been developing its own digital wallet app, PayWave, which it intends to roll out by the fall.
If you€™re starting to get the feeling that this free-for-all, mad rush resembles the dessert line at an Old Country Buffet you€™re right. And with the major U.S. wireless service providers, the major credit card companies, Google and maybe (probably) Apple all on board, the question is not whether mobile payments will become a reality, but on whose side €" or sides €" you€™ll choose to align yourself. You might even decide to forge a path all your own.
How you decide to proceed, some experts maintain, won€™t just affect payment processing and interchange fees. Rather, your choice is fraught with profound implications on the future of your customer relationships.