Congressional testimony raises concerns about consumer protections for mobile payments
Are mobile payments safe? That was a question that the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit posed to various finance officials earlier today. The subcommittee didn’t get a particularly clear answer.
According to written testimony provided by Stephanie Martin, associate general counsel for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, defining what protections apply to mobile payment systems is complicated by the fact that many businesses involved in the transfer of money through mobile devices aren’t banks. Companies involved in mobile payment systems that don’t meet the established definition of providing banking services aren’t subject to certain scrutiny, regulation, or consumer protection laws.
The mobile payment options becoming mainstream are the simplest and low-tech ones.
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.
iOS 6 has some awesome new features, but here's 7 things it's still missing.
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.
Ask what the next revolutionary feature for the iPhone will be, and NFC is a common answer. NFC — or near-field communications — is an ultra low-power chip that allows two devices to communicate small strings of information within a couple feet of each other.
Why’s it so revolutionary? The most commonly cited “magic” that NFC would bring to the iPhone would be the ability to use your device to pay for goods and services, just like a credit card.
In other words, instead of pulling out your wallet to buy groceries, get onto the subway or pick up a MacBook at the local Apple Store, you’d just tap your iPhone against a point-of-sale terminal near the register instead. The NFC chips in both would communicate and you’d be on your way, no signature or PIN code required.
Pretty neat, huh? NFC would theoretically allow Apple to take a cut of real world sales made of even non-Apple products. They’d become a mobile payment company. That seems like such a no-brainer that everyone from Bloomberg to The New York Times.
The only problem? Never going to happen, because Apple has already deployed its mobile payment solution, and it’s hidden inside every iPhone 4S that has already been sold.