Most players have realized by now that there is little money to be made in payments (alone). Interchange fees are under pressure, retailers are forming own networks, consumers are getting averse to paying fees - and that only scratches the surface.
The "mobile wallets" (as well as Square copycats) stampede is still on, but it's not hard to see where most of them are heading to (dead-end or the cliff edge). Swords are drawn over the current status and future (if any) of NFC - as well as other interface
options, for that matter, such as QR codes.
So, what is a viable business model for a company looking to enter the mobile payments market?
HP. Sell a printer for the peanuts, charge a banana on a regular basis for cartridges.
Let me elaborate. When ten of your customers buy espressos at Starbucks and pay with your m-wallet, you get pennies in profit (at best). If you are smart enough to be both on the consumer and the merchant sides of the payment chain, you'll get a bit more.
Think how much competing retailers could be prepared (or persuaded...) to pay you to bring those ten customers to
their outlets. And then to keep those customers loyal.
And then to cross- and up-sell. With your help.
Once you figured out how to use your m-wallet to do all of the above (and more), it becomes the "Matrix" moment. The rest is just noise.
On a semi-related note, one of the recent articles on NFC stated that "most of [NFC-related] commercial problems amount to one thing: a failure of
NFC and mobile payments to drive enough value to elbow its way into a payments model which has been set in stone for nearly 50 years; a model where incumbents are clinging to their positions and resisting sharing their revenue with new players. And they don't
have a compelling business case for doing it all themselves."
Incumbents. Clinging. Resisting. Revenue Sharing. Compelling. Business case.
Substitute "NFC" with "MP3 player" and "payments" with "music" in the above quote. Apply to the music industry ecosystem in the late 90s. Enter iPod. Think of where 90% of that prior ecosystem and "clinging incumbents" are today. Dead. And the industry?
Flourishing (minus silly prices).