While mobile payments may have seemed to be a pipe dream only a year or so ago, the transaction method appears to be picking up steam. More countries are adopting the technology and it's receiving greater support from merchants as they adopt NFC readers or similar platforms that can exchange information with smartphones. This is a boon to consumers, who desire flexibility in their purchasing options. However, these systems will also need the backing of trusted organizations, such as financial institutions, to provide individuals with reassurance about the method's safety.
Case in point, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia is partnering with MasterCard and Samsung to enable mobile payments throughout the country. Using the CommBank app, MasterCard's PayPass system and the security innovations inherent to every Samsung Galaxy S4 device, Commonwealth Bank customers will be able to quickly and conveniently purchase goods at participating merchants with their smartphone. As it stands, MasterCard PayPass platforms are available at 1.6 million businesses globally, and this will likely expand as MasterCard and Samsung move into countries such as Turkey, Russia and the Ukraine in early 2014.
"With today's news, we are ensuring that MasterCard cardholders can 'light up' Samsung devices for payments as they become available in the market," said Mung Ki Woo, Group Executive of Mobile & Industry Alliances at MasterCard. "Our focus is on helping consumers shop and pay in a way that best fits their needs, across all of their devices."
Mobile payments are gaining traction
Although the MasterCard PayPass Ready program has been running for more than a year, mobile payment adoption still remains a somewhat niche transaction method for many individuals and in a number of countries. But with the support of institutions such as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, more consumers are bound to accept the change and businesses should prepare the necessary technology to complete these transactions.
Achieve easier identity management through smartphones
Additionally, while consumers are still getting accustomed to mobile payments, they offer a few distinct advantages over more traditional methods for purchasing items. For one, individuals are more likely to notice that their phone is missing than their cards or cash, simply because people use their smartphones all of the time. While a debit card may be withdrawn from a wallet less than a dozen times in a day, mobile devices will typically be viewed about 150 times. So when one is missing, it can quickly be reported and any unauthorized transactions or other problems halted ahead of time.
Another key trait that's almost unique to mobile payments is that smartphones are a considerably accurate identity authentication method. The technology's close association with one owner links it strongly with that person and allows businesses to know that when a payment is offered, that people are who they say they are. Even a credit card might be shared between family members, but in comparison, mobile devices rarely go far from their owners.
With mobile coupons and other features gradually being introduced to smartphones, businesses should be adjusting to this new payment landscape anyway. The number of consumer and user benefits they're missing out on will grow considerably over the next few years, and customers may come to expect retailers to be able to accept a variety of requests that originate on mobile devices.
The initial rollout of mobile wallets may have been rocky and uncertain, but as financial institutions, hardware developers and credit card companies work with greater cooperation, the time between mobile payments being an experimental technology and an accepted one may be shorter than some organizations think.