Mobile Payments Will Disrupt, Just Not Immediately

I found this very interesting especially in South Africa where we are all to aware of fraud and crime…

Google, Amazon and Apple might be fighting to replace consumers wallets with smartphones. But a new report from Forrester indicates true mass adoption of mobile payments is still a few years away.

In the report “Mobile Payments Enter a Disruptive Phase,” Forrester analyst Thomas Husson says that only 12% of adults in the U.S. and 6% of adults in Europe have made transactions from their phones. Still, Forrester finds that mobile payments “have the potential to disrupt existing payment systems.” The speed in which this disruption takes hold of the industry, however, may be slow going.

When we talk about mobile payments, we’re really talking about two different types of solutions. The first is to use a mobile network to initialize and authorize a transaction. This can be done using SMS or carrier billing.

The second type involves the burgeoning NFC and contactless mobile payment systems. 2011 promises to be the year that NFC devices will ship en masse. Already RFID and NFC pilot programs have been tested by companies like Visa and Bank of America. Still, the first wide-scale demonstration of NFC and contactless payments probably won’t occur until the 2012 Olympics in London. Forrester says it likely will take until 2013 through 2015 for mobile payments to exist in a cross-market, interoperable way.

The transition will take time, Forrester says, because consumer interest in mobile payments is low. Vendors need to give users a reason to care. To create demand, they must adopt mobile payments for the systems to work. This becomes a catch-22 situation. Vendors and mobile payment companies may need to take the lead on convincing merchants and consumers to jump on board.

Still, the very real business and market realities not withstanding, mobile payments do have the potential to disrupt existing markets in the future. This is one reason that so many existing payment processors — like American Express and its new Serve initiative — are entering the mobile payment space with such vigor.



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