Got an Android phone with NFC and ticked off you can’t use it anywhere for mobile payments? Blame Apple. According to one industry watcher, the Cupertino-based tech company is responsible for setting back the emerging NFC market by two years in the United States.
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Google Wallet has been out for almost a year now, and it allows you to store your credit cards on your Android phone and make payments via NFC, but because of limited partnerships during its launch, it hasn’t really taken off yet.
Now that Google’s seen some of the features Apple plans to bring to the iPhone with the Passbook app, Google has decided to double down on Wallet and bring in new features so it functions more like Passbook.
If you thought the heat of the mobile payments industry might cool a bit after weeks of major announcements like the Square/Starbucks partnership, the launch of a new mobile payment company dubbed MCX by several national retail chains, and PayPal’s trial of in-restaurant payments at McDonald’s locations in France, think again.
PayPal announced the biggest partnership yet in the U.S. mobile payments market today – a deal with Discover that will bring PayPal in-store payment to seven million locations next spring.
Square’s announcement of its partnership with Starbucks and the launch of new mobile payment company by several key retail and service chains were signs that the mobile payment industry and digital wallet concept is big business. Late last week, however, there was more news on the mobile payments front that proves that the race is far from over – one could even say that it’s barely started.
In a move that could make Square’s deal with Starbucks seem small and limited, Reuters reports that PayPal may soon be expanding its brand of mobile payments to include on the biggest fast food chains on the planet – McDonald’s. PayPal is currently testing a payment system in 30 McDonald’s locations in France. The company demoed the technology earlier this year.
In a move that makes the Square/Starbucks partnership announced last week look like small potatoes, a group of national and international retailers announced plans to develop their own mobile payment network complete with mobile apps and digital wallet functionality. The move seems almost certain to shake up the nascent mobile payments market where a wide range of companies and organizations have been trying to figure out the secret sauce that will turn mobile payments into a mainstream retail system for the past couple of years.
The Merchant Customer Exchange or MCX, as the new company is known, plans to deliver a solution that offers convenience in both making purchases and in receiving customizable offers from retailers. Development of a mobile app and payment network are underway, but MCX has yet to announce any details about either the app or its network.
Mobile payment technologies have an interesting and complicated relationship with local businesses. On the one hand, local mom-and-pop restaurants, shops, and services are probably the companies that you’d expect to adopt new payment technologies the slowest – particularly if those technologies require new point of sale hardware like an NFC reader. On the other hand, mobile payment systems could be poised to deliver a new wave of business to such local companies.
Making the situation more complicated is the fact that any mobile payment system (Google Wallet, PayPal in-store purchasing, or any system that Apple may be slowly developing) can’t be considered a solid winner or option unless that system strikes it big with local businesses. A system that only applies to large chains, like the in-store purchasing the PayPal rolled out to Home Depot and other retailers, can’t be considered mainstream unless it’s adopted very widely and by a significant percentage of small businesses.
Further complicating the relationship is the fact that many players in the race to create a true digital wallet are on focusing widely varying options for small and local businesses. That means that no one company is leading and no company really seems to have a consistent strategy for tapping this immense and important market.
Read enough articles about NFC and its potential for mobile payments and you’ll find yourself thinking the technology is the inevitable mobile payment platform. Every major mobile platform except iOS already includes or will include support for NFC-enabled devices. There are lots of partnerships being announced between key players like device manufacturers, carriers, and banking or credit card companies. It also just seems to make sense that this is the future.
Until you look up from all the stories about what NFC and look at what’s really happening in the world. You don’t see much evidence of NFC payment systems in everyday life. NFC isn’t yet emerging into mainstream commerce, but there is ample evidence that mobile payments are taking off without it. Those options becoming mainstream are decidedly low tech by comparison, but that’s precisely why they’re succeeding.
We’re super excited for iOS 6. Although it isn’t the complete iOS overhaul many users were hoping for, it does deliver a whole host of new features — like a new Maps app, user interface enhancements, improvements to stock apps, and Siri support on iPad — that we’re certainly looking forward to.
However, it’s hard to ignore the fact that iOS 6 still has some things missing. Things we’ve been waiting for for some time. Here are seven of them.
There’s been a lot of talk over the past year or so about mobile payment systems and the concept of an iWallet. One of the challenges to any digital wallet concept is that it needs several components, most of which are provided by different companies and governed by different regulations. At a minimum, those components need to include on-device hardware, a mobile app or OS that can manage the transaction, a banking or credit card system that actually transfers money from your account to a retailer, support by major POS and cash register systems, and some mechanism for your phone to securely check-in with your selected account(s) to ensure money is available for purchases.
That’s a tall order and a lot of cooperation is needed when you have a different company providing each of those required functions. One way to simplify the process is to have one company deliver all or most of those functions on its own. There are few companies in the world that can pull all those capabilities together. One of them is Apple.
Experts at the Intrepidus Mobile Security Group came across some interesting parsers definitions within Google Wallet’s source code that could hint at a possible iOS release. How Google actually plans on getting Google Wallet to work on a non-NFC/SE iOS device is another story, but for now, let’s take a look at the iOS definitions found by Intrepidus.