In the US, 2012 is being touted as the year of the mobile payment, but closer to home experts believe the mobile electronic wallet will not go mainstream in the next two years due to delays in infrastructure development.
According to Todd Wackwow, CEO of Australian mobile marketing firm POCKETvouchers, mobile payments for ecommerce will keep growing, but while payment apps may move the market forward, near field communications (NFC) enabled ‘mobile wallet’ payments in bricks and mortar stores will not take off in 2012 or even 2013.
“Delays in infrastructure deployment and dubious incremental value will mean it will take a while to reach the tipping point,” Wackwow says.
Writing for Marketing, founder of Third Screen Media, Joe Barber, agrees that NFC integration is not expected in 2012 or even as mainstream in 2013.
“The need to have NFC-enabled phones and NFC-enabled SIM cards will mean that broad consumer availability requires everyone to change handsets. This is not something that will happen inside 12 months,” Barber says.
Currently, few mobile handsets available in Australia contain the NFC technology required to integrate ‘wave and pay’ functionality into the device.
Google’s Galaxy Nexus contains the chip but the search giant has not made its payment app, Google Wallet, available in Australia since it launched overseas in September (although there is a backdoor way for Australians to get it to temporarily work).
And with Apple yet to make a move into NFC, uptake of the technology will be hampered in the short term.
The financial services industry however is preparing itself with a number of players jostling to be first to market.
In July, the Commonwealth Bank announced that it expected to go straight to a live roll-out by the end of the year, and has since introduced its iPhone app Kaching, which requires a special case that is linked to a PayPass enabled MasterCard in order to complete transactions.
MasterCard and Visa are investing in pay and wave terminals with their PayPass and payWave systems, which Google claims are compatible with Google Wallet.
PayPal has previously said that it would bring NFC to the Australian market within the year and predicted the traditional wallet’s demise by 2015 after acquiring mobile payments provider Zong for $240 million earlier in the year.
While handset manufacturers lag behind the financial services industry in preparing for the technology in Australia, this is not the case in the US, where experts are watching the trend with greater optimism.
Writing for CNN, Mashable founder Pete Cashmore claims, “Next year is likely to be the year when mobile payments blossom. While we’ve seen a great deal of innovation in mobile payments technology this year – including the success of Square’s iPhone dongle, allowing anyone to accept credit card payments — 2012 is the year of NFC.
“By 2013, one in five cellphones are expected to be NFC-equipped. Early contenders include Google Wallet, Visa Wallet, Serve (by American Express) and ISIS.”