Plans are afoot to turn cell phones into a ‘one size fits all’ replacement for all credit cards but the development of the idea is being stymied due to all the big corporations who are fighting to be the first ones out of the gate. Everyone from banks to credit card companies to cell phone carriers all want to be the ones in charge of the technological innovation with billions of dollars at stake.
“It all comes down to who gets paid and who makes money,” notes the chief executive of mFoundry, which manufactures software for cell phones, Drew Sievers. “You have banks competing with carriers competing with Apple and Google and it’s pretty much a goat rodeo until someone sorts it out.”
While the companies are fighting it out, consumer advocates are wondering what is actually in it for the customer and if anyone other than the money hungry companies actually wants such a system introduced in the first place anyway. “Is it possible to make a system that’s too easy to use, where you reduce so much friction from the transaction process that people aren’t necessarily aware of what they’re spending on something?” wonders Jan Chipchase, who is an executive creative director at a design firm which studies mobile payments.
Regardless of the qualms of some, however, it seems that it is more a matter of ‘when?’ than ‘if? “I think things are looking more promising than ever,” says the research director of the Aite Group, Gwenn Bezard.