If developers have their way, 2013 will be the year of mobile payment systems. New technology promises digital wallets and in-store mobile payments for all customers. Mobile apps that allow remote purchasing have already hit stores like Starbucks and moved stealthily into the banking industry.
In the past, security risks and consumer reluctance have prevented the mobile industry from entering the transaction process. Now things are changing.
For many providers, the solution has been partnerships, especially in the promising restaurant industry. Restaurants have ever-growing access to mobile ordering systems that speed up their delivery times. Tablets in hand, waiters now have the ability to swiftly take down orders, wirelessly transmit them to the kitchen and collect accurate payments. This on-the-move order processing is finding its way into other industries as well, such as retail.
Other developers are putting their money on inventory integration. More and more companies are looking for solutions that link mPOS (mobile point-of-sale) with inventory management. Users can check inventory levels, take orders on the store floor and connect multiple devices with a single printer or cash drawer. Many of these technology solutions work with any mobile device, meeting businesses where they are with devices already in use.
Many industries are already preparing their infrastructure for digital wallet payments and in-store mobile solutions. Ingenico, for example, recently created a deal with Creative Mobile Technologies to supply payment processing technology for the taxicab market. Taxicabs will soon be able to process not only EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) chip cards, but also payments from cell phones. If taxicabs start offering the service, how long before city-based consumers expect it in other areas, as well?
Of course, mobile payment solutions face an uphill climb to broad acceptance. Businesses have no problem using mobile solutions behind the scenes to track products or make ordering easier. But when power is moved into customer hands with POS features, many retailers need to rethink their in-store strategy. A significant portion of retail profit comes from point-of-sale (POS) products, goods that consumers only see if they step up to a checkout stand. In-store mobile payments threaten to take those profits away and require new revenue strategies.
Likewise, security concerns plague mobile transaction management. Mobile payment standards and protocols are helping to alleviate some identity theft worries, but customer concerns continue. The mobile industry will have to prove its safety over and over again in the coming year to bring most consumers into the POS fold.
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