I was at an industry conference recently that focused entirely on mobile wallets, listening to presenters from various industries talk about the future of mobile wallets. One thing is for sure: Nobody has any idea how and even if a mobile wallet will ever
become widely used.
Banks are building mobile wallets, mainly out of fear of losing touch with their customers. They don’t know what market opportunity the wallet will solve but they
will have a solution in the market. Many are building a solution simply to say they were first to market.
Third-party developers funded by risk-taking venture capitalists are building wallets in the hopes of becoming the next PayPal.
Banks and vendors are arguing over the technology that will support a wallet, near-field communication (NFC) or QR codes. They are both making the assumption that consumers are excited about making a payment on their mobile device at traditional checkout
counters. I have yet to see or know a customer who wants to make a payment and is actively seeking cool new technology to leverage. Have you?
What banks and third-party developers have forgotten about is the customer and the merchant. Both are designing solutions that add little value to a customer’s daily routine. Each point to research that indicates that customers are more willing to leave
home without their wallets than their phones. Why would you leave home without your communication device that connects you to your world? When I leave home, I am definitely not thinking about how I am going to pay for lunch, but rather what device I am going
to use to read the morning news and see how my baseball team did last night. And no company has yet developed a mobile wallet that will help merchants move customers through a checkout faster or increase sales.
Don’t get me wrong. I think that we will eventually move to a world where our mobile phones will allow us to manage our financial lives. But having a mobile wallet for the sake of having a wallet, without understanding what the customer needs and developing
a value proposition for merchants that are a leading force in encouraging adoption is like creating a cutting-edge solution for a non-existent problem.