This week, Pacific Crest analyst Josh Beck speculated that Visa and Apple could partner as early as this fall to unveil a mobile payments system. It would not be Visa’s first foray in the mobile payments industry; it has piloted contactless mobile payments in the UK. Other players Square Wallet, Google Wallet and PayPal have also attempted to bring mobile payments to the mainstream without much success.
Despite evidence that consumers prefer to pay with their mobile wallet and check out at the store, the growth of mobile payments has been largely overstated. For example in October 2012, 2014 mobile payment were estimated to reach $7.51 billion. In July 2013, the prediction was revised to $2.59 billion. Similarly, growth projections for 2015 were revised from $24.63 billion to $9.69 billion.
Mobile proximity payments could solve one of omnichannel retail’s biggest challenges, which is tracking activities of cross-channel consumers. Enabling mobile payments would create a unified system that collects online and in-store purchase history seamlessly. Legacy POS systems, a fragmented payment provider landscape, and lack of a clear value proposition to consumers are cited as reasons for the mobile checkout lag. Given the benefits, retailers have incentive to move away from POS systems and embrace a wider range of systems. Meanwhile, apps such as PayPal are giving consumers a reason to swap their wallets with phones with geotargeted coupons.