by Beth McGarrity
There’s been a lot of talk recently about mobile payment systems; without a doubt they’re the next big thing. Imagine being able to bump iPhones with the farmer selling apple cider at her roadside stand, or not having to carry a stack of bills to pay for that playset you found on Craigslist because you can swipe your credit card on the seller’s Android and the transaction is complete.
While these scenarios sound vaguely like the stuff of science fiction, companies like PayPal and Square have issued the first salvo in the mobile payments revolution. Paypal is focusing on Bump’s aptly named bumping technology, whereas Square, founded by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, uses a simple attachment so that users can swipe their credit cards at any point of sale from an art gallery to a weekend garage sale, effectively turning anyone and everyone into a merchant.
Even though these technologies are relatively new, they are being adopted at lightning speed; it’s not just micro merchants or weekend vendors who are making use of them. Starbucks has launched a gift card upload capability so that coffee drinkers can pay for the purchases with their phones. And Bank of America and US Bancorp in conjunction with Visa are piloting mobile payments programs in the New York area.
It’s interesting to see how these technologies are being perceived and adopted. On the one hand mobility is a highly valued attribute and likely to attract consumers to brands, but, on the other. as consumers have become savvier about protecting their information assets, they are more hesitant to embrace these technologies. With well-founded fears from physically handing over a credit card to have it be skimmed in a magnetic stripe scam, having stored data being mined during transmission or storage, or worse still – losing the mobile device that hosts the payment chip.
While it is true that there are myriad security concerns it’s great to see that all the articles linked to in this post acknowledge security as a major factor in the success of mobile payment technologies and that the companies who are pioneering the technology are building in security from the ground up. Whether they are retail giants or micro sellers, retailers owe it to their customers to work with providers and processors who exhibit security best practices.