Mobile Payments Today: Trends on the Horizon
A couple of months ago, mobile payments were not well known. Most people were not aware that it was possible to use a smartphone to pay for something in the store. Today, if you have an iPhone 6, you can use it to wirelessly pay for almost anything, almost anywhere. Apple is making a difference by rolling out their mobile payments with the iPhone 6. Apple is part of the world’s most lucrative mobile market (even if Android has zoomed past it in market shares). Android has also had wireless mobile payments in the US since the launch of Google Wallet in 2011.
Nevertheless, it never caught on. It seems that this misfortune is due to a limited number of devices, the user interface, and to the fact that Google and its retail partners haven’t made it widely known that they have the mobile payment feature. Wireless companies such as Verizon and AT&T have also limited Google Wallet in favor of their own mobile payment solutions. All of them have been even less successful than Google Wallet, and the time for the Apple iPhone 6 has come. (However, it is said that Google Wallet mobile payments are quite popular in some countries, such as Kenya, where half of the world’s mobile payment transactions currently take place. About 80% of mobile phone customers in Kenya use mobile payments).
The US mobile industry has been expecting Apple to get in the game for over two years. It’s easy to blame Apple for being slow to make this happen, but we should remember that Apple had to gain consensus from many bigger and slower corporations, banks, and retailers, in order to launch a system. Finally, with the launch of Apple Pay, the company has pulled it off.
While Apple has done some admirable work in making mobile payments easy to use, it becomes obvious that the rest of the mobile industry, financial sector, and technology ecosystem need to make mobile payments the next big thing. Wireless carriers will progress and become more innovative, focusing on making mobile payments easier to use.
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