Google Wallet is flying high. Literally. Earlier this month, it announced that it was moving to the cloud so that it would be able to accept a variety of credit and debit cards.
What is it about this and similar technologies, that has everyone so excited? Is it the opportunity? As part of its research, when SapientNitro asked when mobile payments (which has three components, namely m-commerce, m-payments and m-wallets) would turn
mainstream, the most popular answer from every part of the globe, without exception, was either within 1 to 2 years or within 3 to 4 years.
But other products have had equally bright fortunes told, and failed. In my view, the reason why mobile payments especially tap (or wave) and go mobile wallets from the likes of Google, Visa and Amazon have such a promising future is because with them, everyone
Consumers win because they can access digital cash easily anytime, anywhere they need it, at much lower risk of theft of cash, cards, or worst of all, identity. They can save money and time that would be lost in queuing up at the ATM or the bank's cash counter.
They can keep track of expenses, and do so much more thanks to a wide variety of mobile apps. Finally, the proliferation of cheaper, yet more powerful smartphones running on the Android platform has made the mobile wallet device itself affordable for consumers.
Developers, financial intermediaries and merchants win because they can keep innovating upon the mobile wallet, which is built on open source software, and build an unlimited number of applications to go with it.
Device manufacturers win because they can exploit new demand for NFC-embedded smartphones. Similarly, mobile network operators not only benefit from higher traffic and transaction fees, but also see a new opportunity to build mobile commerce networks.
And regulators win too because mobile wallets bring transparency to financial transactions, making it much harder for money launderers, terror financiers and other unscrupulous elements to ply their trade.
If there's one barrier to success, it's the cost of setting up the infrastructure for NFC payments. Countries like Japan and U.K. have crossed that hurdle and are on their way. It's for the rest of the world to follow.