Wallet Wars – Coming to a Mobile Near You Soon

Last updated: 20 March 2014

I was recently at the Wallet Wars conference in New York hearing about the opportunities and challenges that the mobile wallet space offers. And what a spectacle it was! In such a fast-moving and evolving industry, it can be hard to keep up with the latest players: Square, Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft are all making plays for the payments sector, meaning that mobile network operators, banks and existing payment institutions really need to innovate to keep up.

Dave Birch summed it up perfectly in his keynote when he said ‘this business is going to be great, but it isn’t yet. We can see it will be huge, but we don’t know how yet.’

I completely agree with this. We have been exploring and following the evolution of the mobile from talk and text device to the single most personal and valuable aspect of an individual nowadays, but I think one of the key battlefronts of the ‘Wallet Wars’ and lack of visible and profitable development thus far is fragmentation and concerns around security.

While mobile is intrinsically more secure than other payment platforms – as cell phone losses are reported within minutes and there are built-in secure elements and even biometrics are coming to help restrict access to personal information – security concerns abound as mobile malware is on the increase.  And with new digital currencies coming into effect, whether Bitcoin or Mintchip, or new entrants with alternative payment networks, for example Dwolla, Mpayme, Yapital or CashCloud, security has to keep up with the rapidly-evolving marketplace.

Ultimately, however, while the Wallet Wars will continue to rage for some time yet, many industry players – new and old(er) – are getting to grips with the opportunities and overcoming the challenges with help from various suppliers. Such as Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) which having a mobile wallet built for instance.

Consumers want help managing their lives; banks, retailers and mobile network operators want customer loyalty; it’s down to all of us to work together, securely, to offer the best possible consumer experience for mobile wallets. Then we can hopefully have mobile wallets wherever and whenever we want.