An Uber wallet?
“There’s been a strategic error on the part of … the ‘Pays’ — whether it’s Android or Samsung or Apple — in some ways, in marketing the physical point of sale ‘Gee whiz, tap your phone’ aspect of the wallet, when in reality that’s not the thing that’s broken,” said Brian Crist, chief payments counsel for Uber Technologies, at SourceMedia’s annual PayThink conference.
This is more than just a gripe that Crist wants resolved; Uber and Lyft had both indicated that they could take matters into their own hands to address the shortcomings of the current crop of mobile wallets.
Uber’s approach would use application programming interfaces (APIs) to duplicate what the Octopus card in Hong Kong does in handling both transit fare and purchases at local merchants.
“What we’re working on, I don’t even want to call it a wallet,” Crist said. “One thing that we continue to look at is trip experience … could you pay for a restaurant, for example? Could you pay for your theater tickets through the experience?”
These are specific needs that are linked to the Uber ride, and merchants would have to enable those through APIs, Crist said. If this project is implemented as he described, it would indeed fall short of the definition of an open-loop wallet, but it would also bypass Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay or any bank-branded wallet as the payment mechanism for those merchants.