explosive innovationKeeping up with payment system news, even that part of it restricted to North America, is more than a full-time job. So much has happened recently, though, that it's time for a survey of recent highlights:

 

Serious commitments

Big money continues to seek a foothold in payment systems: 

While I'm generally skeptical of the ability of large organizations to react swiftly to external events, at least a few of these milestones took part of their shape from disappointments with near-field communications (NFC). Apple chose not to include NFC in the iPhone 5Wired found a silver lining in this for m-commerce. Meanwhile, m-commerce consortium Isis delayed for a second time launch of its first pilot program.

Race into m-commerce

Also accelerating the race into m-commerce is recognition that, while m-payments present security challenges, it's possible that leading-edge online or mobile payments are already more secure than the alternatives. On one hand, "... smartphones and tables are not secure ...", in the unequivocal judgment of the PCI (Payment Card Industry) Council, and are therefore ineligible for inclusion in the Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). On the other, such major players asMasterCard are moving forward without m-POS certification, and the PCI Security Standards Council itself just issued guidelines for developers of m-payment applications, enumerated as 18 objectives

Not-entirely-coincidentally, this month Bank of America received a patent for a "contactless automated teller machine" (ATM) for which it applied over a year ago. 

What conclusions can we reasonably reach from all this activity? In the near future, many--most?--consumers will reach for their mobiles as often as their wallets when it's time to pay. Clearance will be swifter and less expensive than it is now. And, along with payment itself, a mountain of digitized customer data has the potential to follow every sale.

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