There is a loud rumbling in the payment space these days. The inevitable shift from classic swipe-and-go transactions to a mobile wallet has continued to creep into the marketplace and change the way customers are paying for goods. We’re seeing innovation in every aspect of payments – from startups looking to change what we use as a form of payment (think Coin and their digital credit card or Bitcoin), to alternative payment Point of Sale Systems (Square, LevelUp), to mobile payments for service-based applications (Braintree, Stripe).
After passing the $1 billion mark this past year, the mobile payment market is expected to exceed $58 billion by 2017 according to industry experts. As you can expect, the battle for a piece of that market is becoming crowded and intense. While there are some big names in the mix, nobody has become a clear-cut leader just yet.
Square has made a strong impact in upgrading clunky POS systems, and has its mobile payment platform slowly creeping into major chains like Starbucks and Whole Foods. Mobile payment processors like Stripe and Braintree have allowed mobile in-app payments to flourish, with their impact coming behind the scenes at companies like Lyft, Uber, and LivingSocial. With rumblings that Apple and Amazon with both also be entering the mobile payment scene shortly, it should make for quite the war.
Not only is there a fight for supremacy amongst mobile payment providers, there is a tug-of-war taking place behind what the next wave of mobile payment technology will be. Some companies, such as Boston-based LevelUp, focus currently on QR scanning, others, like Google Wallet, focus on NFC, and still others, like PayPal and Telefonica, use what many would consider a “cloud wallet.”
Just as popular as paying for goods and services, the way we pay back each other has seen some exciting changes as well. Offerings like Square Cash and Venmo now allow users to quickly and easily send each other funds from the convenience of their smartphone. Combined with bill-split features displayed in a number of new apps, the days of waiting to get paid back by friends & family might be coming to an end.
With such a congestion of players and confusion over which technology will prevail, the mobile payment scene is rife with questions and possibilities. We can’t wait to hear more from our panel and get their thoughts!