Mobile Payments – a State of Confusion or Evolution?

by Joseph Walent 0

The application of the idea of evolution to the mobile payment ecosystem is indeed rather apt. By invoking the idea, there will of course be confusion, because the “linearity” of evolution may only accurately traced when viewed through the prism of time. We are smack dab in the middle of events right now, with various ideas and schemes vying for survival.

The battle of technologies to dominate the m-payment industry has been fierce. There is large popularity for USSD and SMS based systems in developing countries while the presence of various technologies like near field, near sound, QR codes, and Bluetooth is very visible in developed countries. In past months, near field communication, contactless technology, better known as NFC, seemed to be leading the way as the top technology candidate for m-payment transaction. However, the limited availability of smart phones needed for NFC apps, and the inadequate market of NFC enabled handsets, accompanied by the absence of industry leaders like Apple until recently, made the technology’s ability to be the best option for m-payment in the short run questionable at best. This technology incoherence was caused by a popular assumption that one technology must dominate the market in order to achieve industry standardization.

By virtue of the broad range of solutions and participants engaged in the mobile payments, and wide investment in innovation there is no shortage of players. While the author anticipates a single unifying solution that will bring standardization, Mercator Advisory Group anticipates a vibrant and fluid mobile payments ecosystem for the foreseeable future.

Overview by Joseph Walent, Senior Analyst, Emerging Technologies at Mercator Advisory Group

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