In a public display of wisdom, the National Retail Federation issued a word of caution yesterday regarding impending mobile payment and financial services regulation. The merchants want to see the marketplace evolve technology toward something resembling a steady state before Washington-driven regulation is considered. While a steadier state is the most that can be hoped for
— we are just at the beginning of this evolutionary process
— the retailer organization is correct in warning against premature, if not preemptive, regulation on this space.
Too often, federal regulators are far removed from how technology evolves or simply a bit anxious to get ahead of an evolving situation. While privacy and data security are enormous concerns, regulations should not, as the NRF suggests to the Federal Trade Commission here, be specific to the mobile platform but to the underlying payment method as it is today.
Too much is happening in mobile payments to handicap the race by premature or mis-targeted legislation. From the NRF's press release: Duncan noted that a phone itself is "just a device, not a payment" and that actual payment could take place via a credit or debit card, directly from a bank account, be processed through the user's phone bill, or be made through other means. Any privacy rules developed for mobile payments should be no more restrictive than those for the underlying form of payment, he said.
"Retailers have always wanted to know their customers so they can serve them better and that doesn't change simply because the method of payment changes," Duncan said. "Mobile might help retailers get to know their customers more like they knew their customers generations ago, and offer more personalized service."
Click here to read more from the press release.