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Does speedy customer adoption matter to the Google Wallet?

Google is currently considering new ways to drive further adoption of its payments Wallet in the US, with Bloomberg suggesting that the company is planning to share revenue with carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T to encourage their customers to embrace the new payments technology.

Other high profile partnerships in the mobile payments industry have shown that these relationships can bring a project to market more quickly, providing access to an infrastructure that even a large, global company would struggle to support alone.

Google’s rumoured ‘revenue share’ approach indicates that the company is hoping to more rapidly advance consumer adoption. The relatively closed-nature of the Google Wallet could be a significant factor in its lack of mass take-up. If a payments solution is only supported on a small number of mobile devices and one mobile network, enthusiastic, potential customers could be faced with buying a whole new phone or switching operators to use the technology.

To take advantage of the Google Wallet in-store, you must have an Android NFC phone on the Sprint Nexus 4G network, with the likelihood being that later adopters will wait to upgrade their contracts before using the payments system. If you don’t make it easy for a customer to use a new technology, however exciting it is, adoption will inevitably be a slow-burner.

However, many would argue that this assessment is too one-sided. Google is enthusiastic about the Wallet’s progress to date, and it’s undeniable that the mobile payments market in general has drawn a number of serious competitors. These include established companies like Visa and O2, who are aiming to establish themselves early in a market which is set to grow significantly. Similarly, although other closed-loop systems like the Starbucks payments app have been brought to market successfully, even these players are yet to enjoy the kind of mass adoption which would make their use commonplace in the UK and further afield.

As with everything in the mobile payments race, the question really boils down to customer opinion. Take-up will be driven by consumers who see value in taking these services and an enhanced customer experience over more traditional payment methods – therefore, surely speedy innovation is needed if speedy adoption is required?

James Richards - Director, Mobile - Intelligent Environments

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Comments: (3)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 03 April, 2012, 15:42Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Compelling reason to use is the primary driver of adoption of technology. Any technology that fails to provide this is unlikely to find significant mainstream adoption no matter how easy it is to use. Whipping out a plastic card at the checkout line and handing it over to the store attendant is not only standard operating procedure for consumers for years but it is also far easier and faster than opening a mobile app, selecting the right card, tapping the NFC POS terminal (where there's one), and so on. 

John Dring
John Dring - Intel Network Services - Swindon 04 April, 2012, 16:15Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Agreed, but you would do those things if you stood to be able to collect some points, redeem some coupons etc in the same tap.  That's why NFC is about more than the payment itself, but the bigger picture of the customer and the merchant experience.

How many times have we waited behind someone paying with cash (say) who then spends 30seconds looking for his loyalty card to be stamped.

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 04 April, 2012, 18:51Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Sure, I'll use a mobile wallet in that case. But, while things may - or may not - change in the future, it's currently impossible to pay, collect reward points and redeem a coupon with a single tap, maybe not even with a single app. The way I see it, the hype around NFC-based mobile payment is getting ahead of its true capability. Only time will tell whether people will wait long enough until NFC's holistic vision becomes reality or, in the meanwhile, jump to some other form of mobile payment that works as advertised today - or give up on mobile payments altogether and stay with plastic.