[Dave Birch] Are mobile payments taking off or not? In the US I mean. Not in places like Kenya where there is no banking infrastructure or cards infrastructure or alternatives, but in the US, where a quarter of the world’s card volume is transacted (and half of the world’s card fraud is executed). How is mobile doing there? It’s early stages, that’s for sure, but interesting times. The Isis mobile payment scheme has launched and the first feedback is surfacing.

Isis may just be in its infancy, but the mobile payment consortium’s Chief Sales Officer Jim Stapleton said that its trial in Salt Lake City is producing positive results from both consumers and merchants.

[From Isis: Salt Lake City mobile wallet users average 5 transactions a week — Tech News and Analysis]

Five transactions per week isn’t a bad start, but it is only start. The question is – where’s the inflexion point? Will mobile payments remain an interesting nice or will they become part of the mainstream inside any strategic planning horizon for organisations developing their strategies right now.

Karen Webster, founder of PYMTS.com, wrote at year end 2012 that the ability to use smartphones for the majority of our transactions is likely “a decade at least” away.

[From Game of Darts: Timing Mobile Wallet Adoption Gets Wonky | Bank Innovation]

A decade away? Maybe in the US, but not on this sceptered isle, this earth of majesty, this seat of Mars etc. Here, the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades. On Monday, just as I was leaving the house, our cleaner reminded me that I had paid her for January, so I used my excellent Barclays mobile payment application to execute an FPS transaction and send the money from my bank account directly to hers in a matter of seconds [Smartphones 1, Non-Smartphones 0]. I drove to the station and used my smartphone to pay for the parking [Smartphones 2, Non-Smartphones 0]. Then I went to buy a ticket. Here is the scene at our station. This is not photoshopped for effect. I really did have to stand in that line.

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Sadly, due to the Victorian nature of our railway service, I could not buy a train ticket using my smartphone (either remotely or using NFC) so I was forced to stand in line to purchase a paper ticket, much as our forefathers did when the station was first opened (as “Woking Common”, because it was all fields round here then, see below) in May 1838 except that I was able to use one of those new-fangled “cards” [Smartphones 2, Non-Smartphones 1].

If you ask me, the best bit in H.G. Wells landmark of science fiction, “The War of the Worlds“, was when the Martians destroyed Woking station. Anyway, off to the Big Smoke, where I went to the MacDonalds at Waterloo (they are located near the Jubilee Line entrance and I like their coffee) and I paid with my smartphone.

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OK, it didn’t work, but you can’t have everything. So I tapped my contactless Barclaycard instead and went on my way [Smartphones 2, Non-Smartphones 2]. After the meeting I met up with a colleague in a nearby Pret, where I paid with my smartphone (NFC) and went off to the next meeting [Smartphones 3, Non-Smartphones 2]. After the meeting, I headed back home with Jonathan Jensen from UKash and we needed to catch up on a few things for half an hour so we went to the coffee shop on Clapham Junction station. Naturally, I paid there with my Barclaycard QuickTap [Smartphones 4, Non-Smartphones 2].

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And so off home to regale my wife with interesting payments stories of the day. The tally for the day: smartphone payments 4, non-smartphone payments 2. Not only did I make the majority of my transactions using my smartphone, I made twice as many smartphone transactions as non-smartphone transactions. The statistics don’t lie, so I shall mention this triumph of technology to Karen next time I see her. I expect she’ll really enjoy my accompanying slide show of POS terminals from around the world.

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of 
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers

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