Mobile wallets, not everywhere they’d like to be

By Robert Passikoff

Bill Gates once opined, “the pc will continue to evolve and eventually you’ll think of it as a flat screen ranging from a wallet-sized device to a notebook.” Prescient, huh? Well, Mr. Gates didn’t realize quite how prescient he was. At least insofar as mobile-wallet technology has progressed.

Mobile payments – or at least the option of mobile payments – have shown up at some retailers and are being touted as the new way people were going to pay for stuff. There are a lot of companies out there betting big dough that point-of-purchase mobile payments will be the next “big thing.”

But that’s a problem. There are a lot of companies developing mobile wallet options out there, but there’s neither a single mobile-wallet standard, nor a single technology out there. So retailers are naturally reticent to invest in the technology required to upgrade to accept mobile payments.

Even for mobile payments like Google Wallet. They haven’t made enormous inroads replacing the traditional wallet, purse, or money clip. Part of the problem is that there really aren’t that many phones that support the system. In fact, only Sprint phones right now.

Apple’s newly introduced iPhone – sans a chip to power mobile payments – didn’t help either. An introduction like that would have provided real validation of the technology, a gateway for a new shopping paradigm, and a way to educate consumers. But, alas, no such luck.

Need to Incent Consumers

Many retailers think that the mobile wallet industry needs to figure out how to incentivize consumers. You know, give them a reason to move away from the convenient piece of plastic (2.8 of them in the average consumer’s real wallet). Until then consumers are going to be slow to adopt the new technology, because to bring it down to basics, there’s still the question of whether swiping to make a payment is seen to be any easier than reaching into a wallet for a credit card.

Remember, a wallet doesn’t need a battery or need to be charged, and you can even carry money in it. Remember money? It used to be the poor man’s credit card.

About the author

Robert Passikoff is President at Brand Keys.

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