The mobile payment scene is already too crowded. There are five major apps taking two different approaches.
Someday, sooner rather than later, we’ll be using our phones instead of credit cards for all our purchases. But the big question as the technology spreads today is are we — customers, merchants, finance companies — getting into a field that is better or worse for us?
Samsung has some support from credit finance companies and retailers, but its position seems some distance behind Google Wallet, let alone Apple Pay. Visa Jim McCarthy, executive vice president of Visa offered a tepid endorsement: “Mobile commerce just got a lot more interesting. Combining Visa’s expertise in payment technology with Samsung’s leadership in creating innovative mobile experiences, gives more choice to financial institutions who want to enable their customers to pay by phone.”
It does seem unlikely that five rival systems will all survive. A grouping into two rival systems seems more likely–Apple, Google, and Samsung combining on the one hand and CurrentC and PayPal on the other. Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and Samsung Pay have significant design differences, but they are very similar at their cores. A critical question remains whether Apple, which has by far the deepest relationship with the credit card industry, wants to control the effort through a union of some sort or whether it wants to keep Apple Pay limited, as it now is, to iPhones.
The roles of PayPal and CurrentC is more obscure. The purchase of Paydiant means PayPal owns the technology behind the design of CurrentC, but commonality beyond that isn’t clear