In today’s International Herald Tribune the title article in a special report on Technology & Innovation is “Mobile Wallet Gains Currency”. The article does a nice job of summarizing the main hurdles to adoption of NFC for mobile payments as being compatible handsets and changing user behavior.
However, the article mentions MasterCard’s Chief Emerging Payments Officer, Edward McLaughlin, as an early adopter of Google’s mobile wallet, and the promotional, coupon, and cross marketing functions that it offers.
The talk about changing user behavior with payments is slightly reminiscent of the search in the 1980s and the early 1990s, for the “killer app”. This was the holy grail of telecom companies that would be so compelling to end users that it would change the game for the telecom operators. It turned out that the “killer app” was voice services- plain old
dial-tone, the boring yet stable bread and butter of the telecom operators.
Nevertheless, it was the cash cow of the industry.
I believe that added value features can help change user behavior, and it is great that industry giants such as MasterCard, Google, and AT&T are making significant investments in order to bring this to fruition. But, these promotional features will need to bring a really strong added value in order to stimulate repeat usage by consumers.
Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility in August and LG and RIM (makes of BlackBerry) announcing the rollout of NFC capable handsets are wonderful positive indicators. Let’s see more of this in the coming months!
By: Jeremy Kagan, Author of Where is the Money in Near Field Communications?
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