Google has just announced the official launch of the Google Walletwhich will allow users who have NFC-enabled phones to pay for products with just a tap against a compatible card reader.
While limited in a number ways, Google just has made a stellar contribution to one of the industries-to-watch: mobile commerce.
In fact, one of the most intriguing points regarding newly projected 6 billion connections that will exist globally by the end of 2011could actually be in the sheer force of what those connections will soon represent in financial transaction power. Thus, the real news regarding the advent in the Google Wallet is not just in the wallet itself, but as the latest development indicative of the titanic mobile payment phenomenon which is to come.
Commerce is rapidly deepening its convergence with mobility; creating an exciting new terrain of m-commerce where the stakes are high, the impact limitless. And it's a sure bet that once these developments are fully implemented, our transaction behavior will never look the same again.
First, for those not familiar, m-commerce is best defined as the buying and selling of products and services via mobile phones; and Alon Kronenberg of IBM Global Business Services says that exploration and commerce testing via mobile devices actually began globally as early as 10 years ago. He confirms that it will be disruptive yet take place incrementally. These increments, according to MobilePaymentsToday.comtake such forms as mobile point-of-sale ("tap and go" made possible my near-field communication chips which device makers are rushing to place into future models), text-to-purchase, in-application billing (currently available today) and mobile "wallets" such as the Starbucks' offering which garnered $3 million in sales just in its first two months. M-commerce also includes capability of merchants to use mobile devices to accept credit card payments through new hardware created from such tech start-ups as Square which recently hit Best Buy shelves.
However, one might find all such activity and prognosis a bit curious given the fact that most business in the US seem to lack definitive mobile strategies. In fact only 14% of businesses in the US even have a fully-functioning mobile transaction site, according to Chief Marketer magazine. But in this instance it is actually consumer behavior, with the aid of tech engineers, that leading the mobile commerce charge creating a true power shift whose pace it seems is forcing industry to catch up. In fact, according to a whitepaper from computer technology giant Oracle earlier this year:
- 29% of US consumers have made at least one purchase via mobile device in 2010 vs. 13% in 2009, up more than 123% in just one year
- 48% of customers browsed/researched via mobile device while in-store in 2010 vs. 27% in 2009
"Consumers are learning about products online, receiving incentives online, paying for the goods online and then picking up the goods or services at the physical retail location," explains Philip Philliou a partner at Philliou Partners a New York-based consulting firms specializing in payments. "So it only makes sense that mobility and mobile payments would only increase such activities currently."
But imagine soon being able to move from the aforementioned activity to complete and utter elimination of carrying cash, credit/debit cards, coupons and transit passes, all thanks to your mobile device.
This is, actually, the ultimate concept behind the term mobile wallet. Indeed a Google spokesperson told CNBC.com, "We're excited about ushering in the next generation of mobile payments, where people can pay and save — faster and easier — with a tap of the phone." Meanwhile, ISIS, a mobile wallet venture between AT&T , T-Mobile and Verizon is reported to be entering the testing phase, reinforcing the fact that well-positioned companies are going after an extremely robust business opportunity which is projected to reach up to $31 billion by 2016 according to analyst firm Forrester Research.