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Mobile wallet - who and what will be a winner?

This week, McKinsey and EFMA issued a report on the future of mobile banking in Europe. Is it a surprise? Not exactly. What strikes me about the report is that whilst banks admit that they are not investing enough  they do recognise that mobile banking is the way forward and will become the service of choice amongst consumers. What  also strikes me is that banks have acknowledged that telcos and non-banks are leading the way.

Yet, mobile banking has still to fully develop. The challenge is attractive: Gartner expects the global mobile payment market to reach 349m users and transactions to reach  $429bn in 2015.

If mobile payments are to be a success, banks should get back on the bandwagon as they are one of the five key stakeholders that are needed. The other four are: merchants, mobile phone operators, consumers and the security industry. Without any one of these parties, for all the promise – and media excitement – adoption of the mobile wallet will be far slower than it could be.

We need buy-in from merchants, or consumers won’t be able to use their mobile wallets, but we also need engagement from phone manufacturers because without an NFC (Near Field Communications) enabled mobile phone, there won’t be a mobile wallet to use.

This is the classic chicken-and-egg scenario but with a few extra eggs thrown into the mix. Banks need to be able to facilitate access to consumers’ funds, and consumers will need to trust that their payments are safe. Connecting all of these stakeholders is a security industry that has to provide strong, simple (from the consumer’s perspective) solutions to prevent mobile wallet fraud.

In most city high streets we already have major retail chains using NFC. Penetration of mobile phones in many developed countries exceeds 100% whilst in growth countries, the rate of growth of mobile phone penetration way exceeds any other form of telecommunications.

What is clearly still lacking, however, is consumer confidence in the security of the mobile wallet. The McKinsey and EFMA report fails to articulate this point. This is where the contribution of the security industry is key, to provide the right products for the job, then to help banks and merchants educate the public about how safe mobile payments can be.

Mobile wallets are coming. But whether it is two years or five until most people in the lunchtime sandwich queue are paying by NFC, is largely down to decisions taken now.



Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 31 October, 2011, 12:38Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

For previous discussion on this topic see my blog here and the subsequent comments

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 02 November, 2011, 12:22Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Definately agree, there is no question mobile banking will grow and succeed in a mobile wallet scenario as mobile device penetration globally has grown successfully to date. However the real challenge for achieving a rapid adoption of the mobile wallet by consumers on a global basis is to deliver a sense of security, convenience and to attain trust by the customer and corporate organisations that their confidential details will not be compromised by nefarious individuals or organisations. 

This actually can be done right now with a combination of existing technologies and some developing innovative technologies, but working out the right combination is the next big hurdle for those leading financial institutions to get their customers to adopt the mobile wallet in the first instance.

My guess is that the smaller more innovative financial institutions or non-banks who wish to grab market share will take the lead and potentially catapult those smaller institutions into the a big league player while the bigger institutions who are not as quick to innovate will follow once they see strong consumer adoption achieved by their smaller competitors.


A Finextra member
A Finextra member 06 November, 2011, 17:10Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Disagree. From what I can see, it's the large incumbent Card players (Barclaycard, Mastercard, Visa especially) using their established infrastructure to dictate the pilots and trials.  The only emerging disruptive niche player appears to be Square, and good luck to them.  Despite mobile companies being global too, they tend to operate on a regional basis, and that's why there are many regional MNO consortiums have emerged around how they will play in a NFC/wallet solution.

Pat Carroll

Pat Carroll

Founder/Executive Chairman


Member since

17 Mar 2011



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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.

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