In Depth: Payments industry was (mostly) quiet this summer
This past summer was a quiet one for the payments industry. How quiet, you ask?
Consider this: in the weeks after Mobile Payments Today asked companies to supply information for last year's Mobile Wallet Comparison Guide, a number of events happened in the industry that created a lot of buzz.
Barclays and Wells Fargo each introduced Android-based mobile wallets.
MasterCard and Visa each made significant announcements that will affect mobile payments in the future. And PayPal, believe it or not, was at the center of a couple of those announcements as the company finds its way as a checkout option at physical retail locations.
Apple added Apple Pay web browser-based payments to its own Safari system.
A little later on, we also saw both Chase and Citi come out with their respective mobile wallets in November.
But since then, the mobile payments industry has been quiet.
Still, there were a few news items on Mobile Payments Today over the summer that are worth your attention. With autumn officially arriving this week, we thought we'd take a look back at what you missed on the site.
Walmart beats Amazon at its own game
While everyone was debating how Amazon Go would disrupt the in-store retail experience, especially with the company’s Whole Foods acquisition, Walmart introduced its own mobile self-checkout technology.
Walmart's Scan & Go is a mobile app that enables users to scan and pay for items without the need to wait in line. The retail behemoth rolled out the technology to more than a dozen stores in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas.
Walmart even has an option for those customers who do not wish to use a smartphone for self-checkout and will provide a handheld scanner.
What Walmart and Amazon have showed with things like mobile self-checkout is that they are more technology companies than retailers at the moment.
PayPal gets more flexible
Since Dan Schulman became PayPal's CEO in 2014, the company once affectionately known as the “fifth payments network” has become a powerhouse in the industry. And it had to do so by convincing MasterCard and Visa to play nice.
One announcement that caught our readers' attention happened right at the beginning of the summer when PayPayl said it was on the verge of making it possible for its U.S. customers to instantly transfer funds to their bank accounts via eligible debit cards linked to their PayPal account.
That feature was only made possible thanks to the partnerships PayPal forged with MasterCard and Visa a year earlier.
MasterCard in Poland
One of the more attention-grabbing pieces of news this past summer came from MasterCard and an mPOS initiative in Poland.
MasterCard has unveiled a pilot project in Poland that enables merchants to use only an NFC-enabled smartphone to accept contactless payments.
MasterCard is working with Elavon, Polskie ePłatności and Mobeewave on the project. Mobeewave earlier partnered with Connect&GO to introduce an Android mobile app that enables merchants to accept a contactless payment.
We can look at this development a few ways.
Poland is still a maturing market when it comes to mobile payments and this initiative might help boost consumer adoption. The country is one of the few eastern European countries showing an appetite for this kind of technology.
What's also interesting about this news is that it might affect how other mPOS providers approach the market. Why would a merchant want to purchase a device from a company such as iZettle when a business owner could already use something they own in a smartphone?
Visa goes after M-Pesa in Africa
As the mobile money service M-Pesa celebrated its 10-year anniversary this summer, Visa launched a competing service in Kenya and across Africa in mVisa.
The system, a new QR code-based mobile-payment service that is intended to accelerate digital commerce in Africa, first debuted in India last year.
Visa now is working with several banks in Africa to offer the service, taking a direct shot at the well-established M-Pesa system.
With mVisa, consumers can directly access all of the funds in their bank accounts to pay merchants (person-to-merchant or P2M) or individuals (person-to-person or P2P).
Citi Pay in the U.S.
Though Citi announced its mobile-payment service in November, it was only available for its customers in Australia, Singapore and Mexico. Citi Pay debuted in the U.S. in early July.
Customers with an Android device will have the ability to make in-store purchases via NFC at contactless point-of-sale terminals. Citi Pay is not available as an iOS app as third parties do not yet have access to NFC chip in iPhones and Apple Watches.
For online and in-app purchases, Citi customers can use the same Citibank online user ID and password they use to manage their existing online relationship with Citi. That ability is made possible through Citi's integration with MasterCard's Masterpass digital wallet service.
While the summer was quiet, expect the news to pick up next month when the industry gathers in Las Vegas for Money2020. One company always makes a surprise announcement at the show and we expect the same to happen this year.
Will Hernandez has 14 years of experience ranging from newspapers to wire services and trade publications. Before becoming Editor of MobilePaymentsToday.com, he spent two years as the content manager for PaymentsJournal.com, a leading payments industry news aggregator and information hub published by Mercator Advisory Group. Will spent four years covering the payments industry as an associate editor for multiple publications in SourceMedia's Payments Group based in Chicago.