The scramble to own the mobile wallet

Turf wars continue to mire the advance of NFC technology and its potential to deliver wallet, ticketing and digital key capability to mobile devices.

What’s needed is a unifying body that can bring together vested interests to collaborate on an agreed set of standards and last week the GSM Association, which represents more than 200 firms across the globe, set out to fulfil that role.

The GSMA said in a press release it would “develop the necessary certification and testing standards to ensure global interoperability”.  The trouble is, a number of groups have already embarked on the process.

O2 in the UK plans to handle its own payments system, in Germany O2 and Vodafone are set to fall in behind Deutsche Telecom’s mPass, in the US AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon have Barclaycard on-side for their solution. Will they be compatible? Will it lead to confusion amongst retailers and users? Will the best solution win?

The two countries with the most advanced NFC services, South Korea and Japan, are currently running their own compatibility trials with the aim of seamless payments systems between them by the end of the year.

Business research consultants Frost & Sullivan estimate NFC will handle more than £98bn of payments by 2015. That’s a sizeable sum for those in the race to develop mobile products and services, and it’s also an opportunity to deepen relationships with customers as a way of tieing them in for the long term.


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