What’s Taking the Mobile Payment Revolution so Long?

by Matt Klassen on May 26, 2011

Although yesterday the race for the default form factor of the mobile payment revolution was up in the air, today the near field communication (NFC) camp got yet another vote of confidence, this time from Google. According to a Bloomberg report, Google will unveil its new mobile payment service sometime today in New York City, a service that will most likely utilize NFC technology.

Like the ISIS mobile wallet and other NFC-based mobile payment projects, the Google payment service will allow users of certain NFC-equipped Android smartphones to pay for items and redeem coupons by simply waving the device across a scanner.

While I mentioned earlier this week that one of the initial drawbacks of NFC payment technology is that there are so few phones that are NFC compliant, Google’s Nexus S on Sprint’s network is one of the few already so equipped.

But as we wait for yet another announcement of yet another mobile payment project I have to ask, what’s taking so long?! There’s been more than enough talk about the future of mobile payment, its time to see some action.

Back in November 2010, when I first reported on the ambitious ISIS mobile payment system—a system that has since been gutted of most of its actual innovation—analysts estimated that it would be commercially viable within 18 months.

Now, given the fact that ISIS has been scaled back and numerous other competitors like Google have entered the fray, I would wager a guess that the small market trials of NFC technology will be short lived, giving way to the actual race for consumer interest when it comes to mobile payment. Although that being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple beats them all to the punch and captures a dominant market share yet again.

The reality is, the tech world has been talking about mobile payment services for years, yet it was the recent advent of NFC technology that has allowed tech companies to really begin to explore the market possibilities. Given that NFC is still in its infancy, and the fact that we’re talking about our money here, there is some justification for the delay.

Beyond that, the mobile payment market is a new profits pie, as it were, with every company wanting a slice. If mobile payment really does replace the credit card like it is predicted too, there are a lot of credit card companies that are going to want to keep the money flowing, and that means securing partnerships that will connect NFC equipped phones with people’s credit card accounts.

Further, there’s the issue of hardware, the devices that will allow this whole system to work. Designing and developing hardware takes time, and with mobile payment requiring not only NFC equipped phones but terminals at every till and kiosk from here to Timbuktu, all designed and developed by underpaid Chinese workers coping with factory explosions and persistent thoughts of suicide, its going to take some time.

That being said, with the heavy weights of the mobile world and the giants of credit card industry all backing this technology, it will arrive one day; let’s just hope all these players don’t screw it up.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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