Slideshow 5 Ways Discover Can Win the Mobile-Pay Race, 3 Ways It Might Lose

  • September 07 2012, 4:18pm EDT
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(Image: ShutterStock)


Discover's deal to handle point of sale payments for the PayPal digital wallet puts it in a prominent position. The more momentum PayPal gets, the more Discover benefits. (Image: Bloomberg News)

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Shortly after Google eased the process for participating in its mobile wallet, Discover got on board. It remains one of only two issuers to support the Google Wallet. (Image: Bloomberg News)


When the major carriers announced their own mobile wallet in 2010, Discover was already a participant, focused on enabling merchant acceptance for the Isis wallet. Barclaycard US was the first Isis issuer.

Global Growth

As digital-wallet providers such as PayPal plan to take their offerings overseas, Discover is planning to meet them there. This month, Discover announced its first issuer in Europe, Russian Standard Bank. (Image: ThinkStock)

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Discover is forging ahead with these initiatives even though they may not be healthy for its current offerings. Though the PayPal pact could cannibalize payments over its Pulse network, the deal is seen as good overall for Discover… (Image: ThinkStock)

Lost Opportunity?

…but perhaps there is a role for Pulse that Discover is overlooking. Fiserv's Accel/Exchange network and First Data's Star network have links to electronic and mobile payment systems, which rely on the debit networks to speed up payments. Discover could do the same for PayPal. (Image: ThinkStock)

Four's a Crowd

Isis has yet to launch, and it has already signed deals with Discover's major rivals: Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Isis explained that getting all four networks on board is an "important element," necessary to expand "the potential pool of issuers" that can participate in its mobile wallet. (Image: Bloomberg News)

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Marketing Muzzle

Discover has had some brilliant marketing in recent years – notably, its mascot Peggy the unhelpful (and bearded) customer service worker – but its ads place little emphasis on the network's role with the major mobile wallets. If consumers don't know what Discover is doing, is Discover losing a chance to win their business?