The mobile payment world is still a confusing space with a lot of land grabbing and jostling going on. But with mobile payment adoption still slow due in part to a lack of cooperation in the industry, some of the biggest players may finally be ready to work together and perhaps even create some interoperability between the new payment systems.
VentureBeat is reporting that the Electronic Transactions Association, a trade association for the payment industry, has formed a Mobile Payments Committee, that will include all four of the top U.S. carriers — Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile — as well as Google, Isis, PayPal, VeriFone, and Intuit. The goal of the committee would be to help guide legislators and regulators on mobile payment public policy, sort out the different business relationships between the members and work on education for consumers and merchants. The real challenge would be to allow the systems like PayPal, Isis, Google Wallet and others to work together, something the committee will try to take on.
Cooperation could be very beneficial in helping mobile payments grow. Right now, the fact that until recently Verizon largely stymied efforts to expand Google Wallet to their devices, has shown how in-fighting can prevent different players from expanding. And it also sows confusion for consumers and merchants, who don’t know which system makes sense for them. That can hold back overall adoption of mobile payments. So it’s nice to see some of the different payment companies joining hands, though it would be even better to get more startups like Square on board.
But I think it will be hard to actually force the major players to cooperate on interoperability. My sense is that it’s still too early and most of the companies would be reluctant to hand over too much control to others. The main players are more likely to find common ground on things like on general policy and education, basic industry stuff. And if this committee is like a lot of committees, it’s likely to move slowly. So don’t expect too much, too quickly. We’re still in the early innings of the mobile payment game.
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