Too Many Mobile Payments Solutions Threatens Adoption

Just about everyone seems to be offering a mobile payments solution these days: credit card issuers, Pay Pal, Google, Intuit, mobile carriers and several startups. And it's probably only a matter of time before Apple and Amazon join the list.

The danger is that the market will become extremely "noisy" and consumers very confused -- not sure which platform or service to use. The growing array of choices for both consumers and merchants could, paradoxically, delay adoption of mobile payments across the board unless all the systems are built on the same infrastructure (which is not the case).

Late last week Verizon said that it's going to offer another mobile payments option to subscribers. The carrier is involved with the ISIS NFC-based effort that includes AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile. (I've characterized it as ill-fated.) However its own initiative involves Payfone and carrier billing. For more expensive purchases, apparently Verizon customers will be able to link their accounts to their own credit cards.

US carrier Sprint offers something similar already. 

According to the WSJ, "The Payfone capability is an evolution of Verizon's BilltoMobile service, which allowed customers to make some mobile online purchases, but the goods and availability were limited."

While there's lots of activity going on among would-be mobile payments providers and platforms there's very little consumer education happening. The assumption seems to be that consumers will come along for the ride. If that's indeed the perspective of the involved payments companies it's a naive view. Consumers will do what's comfortable, safe and familiar. And for some time that could mean nothing. 

A transition to mobile payments is inevitable. But, contrary to conventional wisdom, the more companies that jump into the mobile payments market the more likely it is to delay consumer adoption. 

Related posts: