As with many of our new and evolving technologies, no one really knows what the future holds for mobile payments.
However, there's no lack of people who act like they know. 'Mobile payments' is a buzzword among columnists, consultants and pundits, all weighing in on what will be the that hits it big. And there are many products for them to analyze; new ones are launched every day. Many fail just as quickly.
However, one thing I'm fairly certain of is that smartphone and tablets will significantly change commerce. It will change how customers buy, how businesses sell and how marketers market. It will change the credit card processing business, and it will change how we develop and launch products to offer the best merchant services.
Now that you're thinking about mobile payments, let's consider a few points about the subject that I gleaned from a recent conference.
Do not count on NFC.
Many experts are predicting how the rollout of NFC, or Near Field Communications, will impact the mobile payments sector. Each new iPhone releases a wave of speculation about whether it will be able to support NFC and therefore increase the likelihood of NFC being widely adopted.
However, many experts do not think NFC is the future. They think it's unwisely to overemphasize NFC because mobile payments are not dependent on it. The bottom line is that NFC may grow into a method of transferring data between a smartphone and a point-of-sale system, but other, competitive ways of transferring that data could also become the standard.
The consumer will determine the future.
What consumers find useful, they'll adopt. And what they adopt will become the standard. It's a cycle that has played out with a number of different technologies. Mobile payments will be no different.
It's really rather refreshing. Let the service that provides the greatest benefits win. It's similar to developing the best merchant services program: provide customers with a product they like, and they'll reward you for it.
Showrooming will change retail, not kill it.
'Showrooming' is a new term that refers to consumers using mobile phones to do product research while in stores. They compare prices and browse competitors while walking down the aisles. Some experts have claimed that showrooming will kill brick and mortar retailers.
However, this may be going too far. Yes, showrooming will change retail, but many experts note that retailers will still have the advantage because the consumer is in their store. For example, 70% of consumers who 'showroom' visit the website of the store they're in.
These are just a few things to consider when thinking about mobile payments. What do you think about mobile payments? Are you developing a strategy? Let us know.