Trust will play an important role in mobile wallet adoption
November 6, 2013

The adoption of mobile wallets has been slow thus far. Google has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into development and advertising for its Wallet, but it remains a little-used technology that does not function on many smartphones. Conversely, lack of merchant support has also hurt the payment method's ability to thrive. 

Assuring the consumer
While convenience is one of the issues holding back widespread adoption of mobile wallets, they have another hurdle to overcome: Trust. According to TechHive, Facebook may be developing an app-based payment method. The source claimed that the system should have been introduced in August or September, so the validity of its claim seems doubtful, but even if it were true, the social network runs into a number of issues. Namely, it has a poor history about the way it handles privacy issues and it isn't the most secure network for members to store their financial details on. 

Perhaps more importantly, Facebook has little background with handling transactions. As a social network, no service can quite compete with it, but as a mobile wallet provider, better options likely exist. Reporting on a recent Javelin Strategy study, VentureBeat stated that consumers would most trust a bank's mobile wallet. Unsurprisingly, PayPal was the next most reliable source. Both financial institutions and PayPal have managed payments for years, and worked to provide the necessary security measures to protect their clients' data. 

Expectations don't always meet desire
Still, Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook are considered by some consumers to be the most likely companies to succeed at creating a mobile wallet, VentureBeat noted. Apple doesn't even include NFC technology in its phones, which may reduce its utility even as talk about the iBeacon and Bluetooth-based payments on the device are discussed in some corners. Meanwhile, only Google really seems invested in developing the technology. However, all four are prominently linked with smartphones or e-commerce, and by extension, mobile-based payment technology. 

By contrast, companies such as MasterCard, VISA and American Express receive a little less coverage and consideration by consumers, even as they're developing PayWave, ISIS, PayPass and other mobile payment methods. These organizations bring a level of transactional expertise to the conversation that even PayPal can't beat, VentureBeat noted. 

Because of consumer sentiment about banks, financial institutions should leverage their trustworthiness and work with companies that can bridge the gap between account credentials and mobile wallets. Resolving security concerns will be one of the most considerable stumbling blocks to the technology's adoption and banks and similar organizations are uniquely qualified to assure people that demands have been met. Overcoming the perception about credential risks could be just as important as overcoming the technical problems involved in improving the authentication process. 

Similarly, some level of privacy protection may be necessary to drive adoption. Even as banks convey trust in this arena, some of the other contenders for mobile payment solutions have done just the opposite – along with Facebook, Google has a somewhat ambiguous history with how it handles user data. 

For now, Javelin Strategies found that only 30 percent of smartphone owners are likely to adopt a mobile wallet within a year. That still represents a significant amount of people, and companies that can position themselves as offering a trustworthy, secure service may have a head start on what may become a popular payment trend.