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The Mobile Payment Revolution: Are we All Ready?

Seashells. Coins. Paper. Credit. Mobile. The world may be on the brink of a new monetary revolution. Major corporations are already drawing battle lines for who will rule the Next Big Thing of human economic interaction. But is the world ready for it?

The Basics

Roughly 100 million smartphones in the United States are capable of transmitting with something called Near-Field Communication (NFC). While normal mobile phone calls are broadcast as radio waves on variable frequencies, NFC communications are not. NFC communications work by generating a slight magnetic field around the phone. Devices within a few inches can interpret this field as data. However, any farther than a ruler stick and the magnetic field is undetectable. This allows information to be transferred securely without a cable connection.

NFC capability is standard for all new smartphone models. In ten years it will be virtually impossible to find a working mobile device without NFC capability.

The Wallets

Credit card and mobile companies are lining up behind apps that allow payment by NFC. There are currently four competing standards: AT&T’s Isis, Verizon’s Serve, Visa’s Square, and the Google Wallet. These apps are likely to be the Mastercard, Visa, and Amex of the new generation.

Is the World Ready?

Recent surveys have shown that as many as 75% of Americans feel uncomfortable paying for things using NFC-enabled phones. Surveyed consumers voiced concerns about privacy, security, and functionality. In recent months, mobile companies have begun to address these with counter-arguments. The following table shows common arguments for and against the mobile payment revolution.

Consumer Concern Industry Counterargument
Mobile payment apps collect data from your purchases. Depending on the app, this data may be stored indefinitely, sold, or traded to industry partners. Data privacy policies are variable among mobile payment systems. It will be possible to find an app with an End User License Agreement that suits most consumers’ privacy needs.
Mobile payment systems have serious security exploits. Google Wallet has already admitted to two security exploits that would allow a hacker to access a Wallet on a stolen phone without knowing the PIN. Even with these security issues, mobile payment systems are still much safer than credit cards. Most people will not be able to hack into a phone, and you can set spending limits to lower your risk.
It will take a long time for most Points of Sale to convert to NFC. This is a major issue. It will be at least 10 years before the majority of merchants accept NFC. It may be decades before people could reliably leave their wallets at home. However, we will see a shift away from debit and credit cards, and towards more convenient mobile payments.

As you can see, some of the industry responses are not all that convincing. The picture I’m getting is that mobile payments will simply become new competitors in the credit/debit market.

However, that is a very big market. We are going to see an increase in smartphone payments, smartphone use, and smartphone ownership. Are we ready for smartphones to become as common as credit cards? Yes, I think we are.

Post By DJ (14 Posts)

DJ has been a high profile Internet Marketer since 2001. He is the CEO of TechWyse and as a passionate member of the Internet marketing industry is a key contributor on the 'Rise To The Top' and the InstantMobile Blog.

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