Say the words “mobile wallet” in connection with any significant player in the payments industry, and it’s likely to trigger a flood of interest.
Green Dot Corp. falls into that category, especially when the technology websites and bloggers start speculating the provider of reloadable prepaid cards is ready to enter into the mobile-wallet stratosphere where Google Inc., PayPal Inc. and others are carving out space.
Industry followers picked up on a May 29 report in the Las Vegas Business Press that Monrovia, Calif.-based Green Dot plans to leverage its acquisition this spring of Loopt Inc. as a springboard for a mobile wallet. And later MobilePaymentsToday indicated the Las Vegas publication reported that Green Dot “announced” a mobile-wallet development, though the Vegas report referred more to company goals stated in the past.
Inquiries into Green Dot left PaymentsSource believing this was likely a new take on comments executives made after completing the $43.4 million deal for Loopt and its geolocation mobile-messaging technology. It completed the Loopt deal April 4.
One Green Dot employee was not aware of any mobile-wallet initiative or announcement, and calls to Green Dot executives were not returned by deadline.
But that Green Dot viewed the Loopt acquisition as a way to help it create mobile “banking branches” for Green Dot customers can’t be denied, especially when considering that Loopt provides the technology needed to make a smartphone operate like a credit card in mobile-payment settings.
In March, Green Dot CEO Steve Streit spoke to PaymentsSource mostly about the development of “branchless banking” for Green Dot cardholders through the Loopt acquisition, but he never mentioned a mobile wallet per se (see story).
However, the Business Press quoted Streit in an interview that hinted of the company’s intention to pursue a mobile wallet.
"When Loopt's assets are layered into Green Dot's platform, we believe that a significant opportunity emerges for Green Dot to become a large-scale player in mobile technology [services] at the retail point of sale," Streit said in the report.
Yet the definition of “mobile wallet” changes over time with various company initiatives, one industry analyst notes.
“The definition of a mobile wallet will change over the next year or two, and what Green Dot is considering certainly would be a mobile-payment product through a smartphone,” Gil Luria, analyst with Los Angeles-based Wedbush Securities, tells PaymentsSource.
However, Green Dot’s view of a mobile wallet likely will differ from the models that Google, PayPal and the card networks are establishing, Luria suggests.
Green Dot has to develop a mobile-payment model that allows its customers to use the prepaid card at the point of sale while also applying all of the functions and features to that card through a mobile device, he adds.
“I believe the story coming out of Las Vegas was just further discussion from earlier when Green Dot acquired Loopt, but I also believe it is somewhat correct in its assumptions,” Luria notes.
Shortly after the Loopt acquisition, Green Dot executives even talked about licensing the geolocation services to retailers and financial institutions (see story).
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