CNP Expo: Will We Ever Really Be Able to Get Rid of Our Wallets?

May 22, 2014

CNP Expo: Wednesday Keynotes Feature Omnichannel and ‘Verge Culture’

Greg Raiz of Raizlabs asked this afternoon’s mobile wallet panel to assess the current mobile wallet landscape and make their best predications for the future. All three panelists agreed that the mobile wallet scene is pretty fragmented right now. Les Matthews of MasterCard noted that his last search for “wallet” in the Apple App Store came up with 700 results. He predicted, and the other panelists agreed, that there will be a collapse.

“Ubiquity ultimately will win the day,” he said. “The more places you can use a particular mobile wallet, the more popular it will become. I do think there will be more than one winner, but not 700 of them.”

When it comes to mobile security, Shaunt Sarkissian, CEO of Cortex MCP, emphasized that “you have to look at balancing usability and control. Scanning your face to get a cup of coffee may work in a vacuum in downtown San Francisco, but it’s not going to take off in the rest of the world.”

Jack Stephenson, senior vice president of digital commerce for First Data, was optimistic about the future of mobile security: “Mobile platforms can provide more security, more encryption than a little plastic card with sixteen digits on it. There are so many tools at our disposal, shame on us if we can’t find a way to make mobile more secure than what we’ve got now.”

One of the challenges for the mobile wallet going forward, Stephenson said, is that it doesn’t actually solve a problem in the mind of most consumers. “No one is walking around complaining about how heavy and cumbersome their wallet is. For the mobile wallet to be relevant, it will need to really simplify shopping and incorporate payment, coupons, shipping and the like to make the experience significantly more convenient.” Matthews pointed to an age gap in demand for the mobile wallet: “The Millennial population is pushing for it, the non-Millennial population is not as concerned with it.”

But a biggest challenge for mobile wallets isn’t the consumers, it’s the merchants. Changes to payments and POS often mean expensive new equipment and tedious personnel training. The successful mobile wallet will need to minimize hassle for merchants from that standpoint.