Hardly a week goes by without another mobile wallet launch
. It seems as if we are in some kind of a “gold rush” again and it’s not only Juniper Research that’s saying it – here is a quote earlier this year from Michael Upton, Senior Vice President of Online and Mobile Banking at Bank of America using a similar Western theme: “2011 is going to be a very exciting, very dynamic year when it comes to mobile payments because it's the Wild West again, with all these players positioning in various different ways to redefine the digital payments landscape.”
Recent announcements have come from consortia of mobile network operators, but the previous tranche came from the financial sector, and of course Google has now waded in and made its presence felt in the market. “This town ain’t big enough for the two of us”
is now certainly an understatement, but who is left standing at the end of the shootout is not going to be decided by them but by us. So the question for all of us is “who will I trust to look after my mobile wallet?”
Of course the question is far more complicated than that and by its very nature, both telecoms and financial players have to be involved, unless we see a fundamental merger of the two sectors, which is almost unthinkable. Not only that, but there are all the other issues of mobile and financial presence and interoperability which makes this sort of convergence so fascinating (and introduces yet more players into the marketplace). Nevertheless, most of this complexity is hidden from you and I as consumers, but the choice will be ours in the end. Do I go with the mobile operator who I trust with my calls and data or with the financial organisation who I trust with my money? Maybe one or the other, depending on your view of how well they have performed, or perhaps it’s Google because you have had bad experiences with both. Maybe I also choose Google (or another major internet player – even Facebook?) because I am Generation Y and have no experience or allegiance to either mobile operator or bank. It’s difficult to know how people will vote, but vote they will and it won’t be for more than one – all the wallet propositions promise to be all you need, and do many people have more than one physical wallet? So, yes, Michael is right, it’s Wild West time again, the stakes are high … who is going to get your gold?