Is it time your business mobilized around mobile payments?

While a standards shakeout will come, retailers and merchants should follow mobile payment innovation closely throughout 2012.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

One big theme at the annual CTIA mobile and wireless technology conference this week is the innovation emerging around mobile payments. Although Square often gets the most airplay for its solution -- which has already processed more than $2 billion in mobile payments -- this is fast becoming a very crowded marketplace.

This week, VeriFone and MasterCard were among the big-name financial services companies putting their latest spin on mobile payments solutions. Another player to watch, PayAnywhere, is clearly gunning after Square and PayPal, wooing smaller retailers and merchants with a $9.95 reader that offers pay-as-you-go pricing.

American Airlines and Barnes & Noble were among two of the notable retailers rallying around the new MasterCard PayPass Wallet Services this week.

Both companies planning to include a button that will allow anyone using the PayPass service to make 1-click purchases. PayPass allows consumes to store their MasterCard credentials and shipping information in secure service. The financial services company has made the PayPass Wallet open, so that people can store other card information such as American Express, Discover or Visa.

In a press release describing the new MasterCard PayPass Wallet Services, Marc Parrish, vice president of retention and loyalty for Barnes & Noble.com said:

"Consumers are at a pivotal point now where smartphone adoption has exploded and well over 50 percent of Americans now own one. The technology that will allow customers to make mobile payments at the point of sale has already begun to make a difference, and Barnes & Noble is proud to be leading retail in this technology shift."

While I believe it will be a good five to 10 years before consumers begin to think about mobile payments as their preferred payment option, it's clear that a major migration is happening when it comes to processing and accepting credit cards.

Small businesses, in particular, are benefiting from mobile point of sale (POS) options that don't lock them into the traditionally onerous fees charged by the big credit card companies.

Indeed, mobile payments definitely will inspire a massive rethinking of how payments are accepted in-store. If a clerk can ring up a customer right out in the middle of the aisle, will smaller stores really need to worry about dedicated a stationary POS area?

In July 2011, research firm Gartner predicted that the number of consumers using mobile payment options would top 141.1 million in 2011. That actually was slower than originally expected but it is still clear that retailers ignoring mobile payment technology could soon find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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