Two years ago, Isis (Softcard) and Google Wallet were the only two viable wallets in the market, and I use the word viable loosely.
Apple had yet to announce its Apple Pay plans and merchants were coming to market fast and furiously with new apps that featured payments, all while Starbucks was dominating thanks to its easy-to-use QR based closed loop system. Fast forward to today, and the myriad competitors can be divided into categories based on scale and strategic bent.
Each of the companies are pushing our industry forward, hopefully to challenge each other to tackle true end-user pain points that we have today (or that we dont even know we have today).
So with that, here are our "warring nations."
The Super Powers. Apple is the hot new player on the block. With its much anticipated leap into the payments space not even a year old, Apple has become a true super power and the rest of the payments industry can thank them for shining a big spotlight on the mobile payments space. Apple Pay has grabbed headlines, turned heads at POS terminals and has an enviable network of supporters from the biggest banks to some of the biggest retailers.
With Google's announcement of its deal with Softcard, Google looks to be re-establishing itself. With agreement from the networks to have Google Wallet loaded on their phones, Google may have (overnight) taken a lead in sheer deployment numbers in terms of their wallet offering. I am keen to see what their 2.0 wallet offering looks like, and how they leverage their new armaments.
Samsung and Apples feuds are well documented. Samsung was first into the NFC game, and many Samsung Galaxy fans were quick to point out that they had NFC-enabled phones 2 years before their iPhone peers. With LoopPay, Samsung can lay claims to havingby farthe overwhelming advantage in acceptance today. Will the early advantage help them pole vault their way to victory?
The Rising Nations. MCX consortium of retail superpowers is getting closer to launching its CurrentC offering. I think they may quickly become a superpower in this chess game, but for now I am putting them in our Rising Nations category.
PayPal PayPal always seems to get places first and then fades back a bit. I am bullish on PayPal in the mobile wallet wars as soon as they are spun out of EBay, but for now they do have a great payment application without the wallet.
The Arms Dealers. The card networks find themselves in an interesting position. Each is building out its own mobile wallet application, and for the other players to be successful, they have to work with the networks (at least for now). So the card networks represent both an army and an arms dealer.
Much like the card networks, the banks find themselves in the position of both trying to work on their own military approach to the war as well as supporting the war efforts of some of the super power nations listed above. The banks will play a big role in the mobile wallet wars one way or the other as they are the keepers of the war chest, I mean cash.
The other players. It goes without saying just about everyone wants to play a role in the mobile wallet wars and retailers large and small are no exception. Figuring out a way to connect and become closer to their patrons is at the heart of the retailers strategy, so whether they get completely wrapped up in the larger wallet wars or they wage their battle on the fringes we shall see, but the fact remains more and more apps will continue to roll out from this segment.
Mark Ranta is senior solutions consultant at ACI Worldwide.