What is it going to take for mobile payments to finally register in the mind of the consumer? Maybe it’s time to think about mobile shopping rather than mobile payments, panelists argued Tuesday at the VentureBeat Mobile Summit.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: mobile payments are going to be huge. There are an awful lot of companies betting on the prospect but year after year we keep hearing that mainstream adoption is just around the corner. Representatives from Google (s goog), PayPal (s ebay), and NeuAir argued that if payments is just one part of the mobile shopping experience, that day might finally come.
“Payments are not fun,” said Hill Ferguson, vice president of PayPal Mobile, at least one company that has fun processing payments. “Shopping is fun,” he said, saying that companies hoping to get consumers interested in their version of a mobile wallet need to provide a complete experience, including deals, offers, loyalty cards, and even special offers like installation or delivery that regular payees can’t access.
Consumers are already using their mobile devices during the shopping experience to compare prices, said Jason Spero, head of mobile at Google. “You have to plan for price transparency” if you’re a big retailer, he said, and if you’re a smaller one “you have to win on something other than price.”
Obviously, there are a few different ideas on how to make this happen. PayPal wants to build a virtual wallet that is accessible from a mobile device and contains payment information, merchant loyalty cards, and things like coupons all in one place, Ferguson said. Google has been focused more on the concept of NFC-enabled wireless payments through mobile phones, but has been rumored to be considering other alternatives and Spero acknowledged that while Google thinks NFC is a winner in 2012, it might not the “the only way to deliver the (mobile) wallet.”