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The time is right for mobile payments in the US

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My esteemed colleague Gordon Beatty took part in a panel discussion at SXSW this week, sitting alongside Ryan Hughes, chief marketing officer of Isis, and consultant Toni Merschen. The topic was mobile payments, looking in particular at how we can expect the advancing technology to transform mobile shopping.

The ubiquity of smartphones means that mobile wallets can now become integrated into a device that most of us carry around with us at all times – this is critical in making payments more convenient for users.

In the past, we have experienced a ‘Chicken or Egg’ scenario in terms of adopting advanced payment technology, whereby the installation of terminals and applications depended on users adopting mobile payment devices, which itself depended on those same access points becoming widely available. Last week’s announcement from Isis that a number of Payment System Suppliers have agreed to license its mobile commerce application suggests that we may finally be approaching a point where the infrastructure for mobile payments is sufficient for widespread consumer adoption.

The Mobile Retail Blog recently published a post following predictions from Gartner that mobile payment users would jump from 38 million in 2010 to 141 million by the end of 2011. As the US continues to build its infrastructure, the perceived barriers to mobile payments are falling, with mobile handset makers and operators clamouring to get on board and include the technology in their devices, and banks signing up to support contactless payment technologies.

Our work with Isis is designed to help people in the United States access a more secure, more convenient way of shopping via their mobile devices. The data on a mobile payment system is actually more secure than on a card’s magnetic strip, as it can’t be skimmed and pirated, while the dangers of losing the device can be countered simply by calling the mobile provider. With this level of security now in place, we think the time for mobile payments has truly arrived. If you were at the panel discussion, or have any thoughts on the future of mobile payments, let me know via the comments section below.

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