The “Pays” have failed to gain real momentum, and it may never happen.

Enter businesses publishing their own apps, like Starbucks. Enter the future of mobile wallets. You might not be able to pay every business from the Starbucks app, but it sure is convenient.

And now that other businesses are following suit, with Walmart Pay, CVS Pay, and others, this trend is here to stay. In fact, one could argue that the “Pays” may never catch up.


Yes, they are hindered by external factors, like a lack of phones that support NFC and the lack of check-out-terminals that support these phones. But these “pay-all businesses” mobile wallets don't work. They are trying to build an aggregator model where you can pay everyone, all the time. That is really, really hard to do. They need greater scale, ubiquity. Someday but not today.

Starbucks. CVS. Walmart. Even small local businesses. All are publishing their own mobile wallets. This seems to makes no sense. Who is going to want to wade through dozens of apps on their phone to find the right app? Who is going to want to set up all these apps? And who would not vote for going to a single app? Consumers, that's who.

Today, 50% of electronic payments are what we call “Biller-Direct.” People go to a business’s website to pay. The other 50% are “Bank Bill Pay” where people use Internet Banking Bill Pay to pay bills. It's split. And, so will the world of mobile wallets be split. Aggregator models like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, etc. will have a place, eventually. And, so will Starbucks.

Right now, it is the businesses gaining traction. The Starbucks app is cool, and it does much more than just payments. The Walmart Pay app is cool, and it too is integrated in to the entire shopping experience – way more integrated than the “Pays” frankly will ever be.

These business apps are, superior right now, and they just might never relinquish this advantage. Everyone is talking about “contextual-shopping” and “contextual financial-services” – going where the consumer is and embedding your “stuff” right there in someone else's experience – like banking via Facebook or P-to-P payments via messenger services.

A single-business mobile wallet can be much much further integrated into the “total customer experience.” The “Pays” cannot. They will try, but it will take time – just like their payment features. And in this gap of time, the businesses will be innovating and learning. Advantage single-business mobile wallets. Maybe not “check-mate,” but an advantage. The failure of the “Pays” is the opportunity for the business to keep control of their customers and their destiny.

Robb Gaynor

Robb Gaynor

Robb Gaynor is co-founder and chief product officer of Malauzai.