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Mobile Wallets Won’t Work (yet)

Just recently, Accenture launched a Mobile Wallet application with analytics. Fantastic! For .1% of the population…

Mobile wallets have been a newsworthy topic for a few years, and I can see why:

  • They’re new, sleek, and full of high tech
  • They seem futuristic
  • They promise of a day when we can all stop carrying bulky wallets with 4 or 5 cards in them.

But here’s a few competing reasons I think we should be focusing on other solutions:

  • Mobile Wallets are platform specific
  • They often require hardware that is only available on a small fraction of smart phones.
  • It requires adoption by retailers and POS system developers
  • Lets be honest: Google did it, and it didn’t go that well. Apple has the capability to do it, but hasn’t.
  • Its years away from being practical enough to adopt.

So lets get one thing clear: I love advances in the payment space. In my wallet right now I have 14 plastic cards. 9 are magnetic strip, two of which are IDs, one is a membership card, and the rest are forms of payment. Thats 6 cards that could ideally be added to a mobile wallet that are in my wallet right now. I’ve got 7-10 more sitting in my desk at home (gift cards, debit cards, credit cards) that I don’t carry because I simply don’t have space.

I’D LOVE TO GET RID OF ALL OF THESE CARDS!

However, I also recently went on a road trip all over the US (43 states, 2 parts of Canada, most major cities in America, and nearly 15,000 miles) and that experience will always serve as my bar for consumer utility.

Could I, for that trip, have replaced even just my payment cards with any solution currently on the market? No. Not a chance.

(Yes, I pre-ordered a Coin like anyone else who’s similarly frustrated — I know this will solve that specific problem pretty well, but it’s a great example of a weakly-publicized solution, and one that only gets us most of the way to a mobile wallet)

So whats the core of this problem? The Users. As I mentioned here, the future of payments is a future that will involve both the people making payments and the people accepting payments. There are two users to be concerned with. Because this is a classic chicken vs egg, any real solution to this problem will have to answer both sides of the question. Why would a retailer adopt a payment system (NFC, Square, VeriFone, Etc) unless enough customers use it? Why would a consumer adopt a payment system (wallets, credit cards, heck – Bitcoin) unless they can use it in all their day-to-day retail experiences??

Personally, I won’t rely on anything new unless I can recreate my road trip successfully with that one solution.

Now, back to Wallets.

Accenture is adding incredibly valuable services for retailers and payment companies in that they can harness, analyze, and utilize consumer activity faster and with more flexibility. It will also likely come with a hefty price tag when white-labeled for their Finance clients. At the end of the day though, I feel like they’re missing the point: unless you solve the problem completely for users, you’ve become noise along the road to a real solution


Reference for Accenture’s new Wallethttp://www.finextra.com/News/Announcement.aspx?pressreleaseid=54024

Originally posted by Rob McGrorty on Medium