Monday, September 24, 2012

Can companies wait on a mobile payments strategy? Experts say no

The mobile space is one of the fastest-evolving in all of the technology world and because of that, it's no surprise that many companies are struggling to keep up.

From the smallest business struggling to figure out how to build a mobile-friendly website to the largest consumer internet brands struggling to build compelling mobile experiences, mobile offers just as many challenges as it does opportunities.
That begs the question: in many cases, isn't a wait-and-see approach the most sensible path forward? When it comes to mobile payments, some experts are suggesting that companies can't wait.
According to's David Gardner, estimates peg the value of mobile payments at some $600bn within the next four years and given the near-ubiquity of mobile phones in the developed world, the rise of mobile payments would appear to be a when, not if, question.
As Dr. Siddharth Shah, Adobe's director of business analytics, sees it, "It's safe to say that mobile transactions are the wave of the future." For that reason, he suggests that "Right now the focus of CMOs should be [which] device is most appropriate for making mobile transactions better."

Mobile: it's complicated

Unfortunately, that's not an easy task. As Gardner points out, the mobile payments space looks like a "minefield." Case in point: while NFC is gaining a lot of traction, Apple has chosen, at least for the time being, to stay proprietary with its new Passbook application.
The lack of standards is just as confusing for consumers as it is for businesses, and while mobile payments are becoming more visible to consumers thanks to deals like the one forged between Square and Starbucks, until the dust has settled, there's no reason to believe that consumers are going to rush to jump on the mobile payments bandwagon. There's simply too much uncertainty.
Even so, Shah and his colleagues at Adobe argue that companies need to start making decisions now so that they're prepared when the train starts to leave the station.
But is this realistic?'s Gardner points to IAB research showing that half of the Fortune 500 doesn't even have a mobile site, which begs the question: how can companies begin to develop a mobile payments strategy when they don't even have a mobile website strategy in place?
Obviously, mobile payments and mobile websites are logically two separate discussion for many companies, but there's still the issue of whether they are ready to tackle complicated mobile decisions before they have a firm grasp on the direction of the market and what it means for them.


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