Are mobile payments the next efficient, sustainable discussion?
Should mobile payments be similar to clean, renewable energy and other sustainable/efficient topics? Reading articles about mobile payments I couldn’t help but think about a future, but not so distant world, where paying with our mobile devices is the universal norm. It cuts out the middle man (credit card providers) and puts the money in the “virtual” hands of the players that matter. Rather us, the business we are dealing with and the innovative business that came up with the mobile payment platform that we are using. It cuts out and eliminates businesses like MasterCard and Visa. Good, or bad thing? At this point I think it’s a good thing. A scenario that in practice, benefits the businesses that matter: us individuals, the businesses we buy from, and the mobile payment business. I think it’s good because it rewards a company, like LevelUp, Google Wallet and/or Square, that are striving to create a product/service (mobile payment) that is a creative, innovative way to make everyone’s lives more efficient. I began by comparing mobile payments with renewable energy because my mind raced down a path that led to a futuristic world where technology is the centerpiece of us living more efficient/sustainable. Essentially, our mobile devices would be controllers for our lives. Mobile payments are an entry to that kind of living. They are also an interesting discussion that is not quite figured out completely yet.
Noting the Flaws
I question whether or not cutting out the middle men (credit card providers) is a good thing? The answer is whether or not I feel safe with all my personal information with credit card providers or solely with a mobile payment business that is providing for us and every retailer. If it were the case where a mobile payment platform had all of our information, a security breach would be very detrimental. In the case of credit cards, many of us have experienced the misplacement and/or theft of our cards that have led to heartache and annoyance. A real example going on right now is the case of the Starbucks app. The app allows customers to buy coffee through the app. Starbucks can be said to be leading the pack when it comes to mobile payment (18,000 stores across 50 countries). However, they experienced a potential security breach when it became public knowledge that the app saves customer information in plain text making it vulnerable to hackers. A hacker would have to have access to the phone, a computer and know how to open the files to successful breach the security of the app. Difficult, but possible. Matters like this would deter from mobile payment platforms to become popular and safe to the majority. There is the argument that credit cards work just fine and there is no need for a mobile payment app. But I’d say that it would be very helpful to carry once less important item on our persons. Integrating our phones with our wallets is very efficient. It just hasn’t quite reached its sustainability stage. Location services with passwords make finding our lost phones easier than finding our lost wallets.
We can see the bobbing and weaving of the mobile payment businesses. LevelUp is an example of introducing a new twist to the plot with their ‘connected apps.’ Their ‘connected app’ allows any online website or app to use LevelUp as the payment tool. It strives to go beyond just simply ordering pizza and paying through LevelUp. “The possibilities for LevelUp connected apps are limitless; basically any developer with some kind of transactional element can build a LevelUp connected app. A true payments layer and connected apps ecosystem makes the benefits of LevelUp accessible to way more businesses than ever before.” LevelUp is attempting to reinvent the commerce world with a connected web of businesses/customers/and mobile payment. Like in the my opening, this idea for commerce seems very efficient and beneficial to the businesses that matter (not credit card companies). Co-founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, sets his sights to solve the entire experience of commerce through mobile. He is the CEO of Square, the mobile payment platform he is directing to be the “one, end-to-end, great, frictionless experience.” Dorsey explains that payments and transactions are too “mechanical and should disappear.” Dorsey and Square are another player in the mix attempting to reinvent commerce. His vision starts with giving back to the sellers and saving time for the merchants. I think this is going to be what drives mobile payment and new breed of commerce for the future. It is exciting and creative. Who wants to be the one to reinvent commerce? I don’t know about you, but I do.
The virtual currency that has people talking, even opening bitcoin ATMs in Vancouver. There are people backing the virtual currency, attempting to get it’s use in the public majority. The future is still unclear much like mobile payments. Bitcoins have been used for good and bad. The thing for me is that the transactions and handling of bitcoins should be traceable. In the digital, big data world of today bitcoins might fit right in because they could be tracked and stored. The Bloomberg described the bitcoin discussion just right, saying that it is like “when the world was on the cusp of discovering the World Wide Web but hadn’t yet found the right user interface.” The same can be said for mobile payment platforms as well. The new virtual currency and commerce experience is on our front door step.