Google formally announced its entry into mobile payments today, a “Wallet” service backed by Citi, MasterCard, Sprint, VeriFone, and other players in the tech and finance industries.Basically, you’ll be able to use your phone to pay for stuff by touching it to a credit card terminal. Cool.
Before you know it, however, Google Wallet will probably have a bunch of competition, from the likes of:
- Apple and other mobile phone makers
- AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, which have teamed up for a payments service called Isis
- Banks or credit card companies
- Companies like Square or PayPal that want to get involved in mobile payments
The early winners and losers should tell us a lot about who currently holds the most power in the mobile industry: Consumers, handset companies, OS companies, carriers, software makers, integrators, or a combination.
For example, will a Verizon Droid phone by Motorola support Verizon’s payments system by default, Google’s, Motorola’s, a different service, a combination, all, or none?
More important: Which service, if any, will people actually use?
Over the next couple of years, we’ll start to see 1) if consumers actually care about mobile payments, 2) which payments services and models they end up choosing, and 3) if that’s because they’re the best or because they’re the ones with the strongest backers.
A lot of money and a lot of data are at stake, and everybody wants it. So it’s going to be a very interesting battle to watch.