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The war for your mobile wallet

Mobile wallet more secure than traditional leather - sales officer

Image Credit: Scott Shuey/Gulf News
Gaming accessories are a big part of CES 2013 in Las Vegas. These exhibitors display the latest toys from the Angry Birds: StarWars game. But the real war is the one to be fought by merchants for the consumer’s mobile wallet when NFC takes shape.
Gulf News

Las Vegas: There a war going on for control of your mobile wallet. No one at this years Consumer Electronics Show (CES) show in Las Vegas seems to have any idea of who’s winning.

The problem with launching a mobile wallet service hasn’t been the availability of the technology, which is now becoming standard in most smartphones, but because of a chicken and the egg scenario involving merchants and consumers. Consumers don’t know the about mobile wallet payments because merchants don’t offer it, and merchant don’t see any demand because consumers don’t ask if it available.

“Its an evolving process,” said Peter Hazelhurst, global head of payments at Google. “It’s not like tomorrow everyone will have this technology and start using it.”

The technology that Hazelhurst is talking about is Near Field Communications (NFC), and it can turn your smartphone into a mobile wallet. Most smartphones made today now come with NFC, but merchants also need a NFC terminal in the store to accept payment.

Jim Stapleton, chief sales officer at Isis, another company that offers mobile wallet services, said NFC can turn a mobile phone into “a mouse of the physical world, and one you click this mouse it will be like magic”.

Stapleton said that security concerns have also kept people away, but he says mobile wallets are more secure than what most people have currently.

“It’s far more secure than your leather wallet,” he said. “If someone stole your leather wallet, they would have little difficultly in conducting a transaction with your credit cards.

The difference is that your leather wallet doesn’t have a combination lock. The smartphone needs a passcode.”

However, not merchants may need additional reasons to make the jump to NFC.

Chris Hylen, vice-president and general manager for Intuit, a financial software company, said there isn’t any real reason for merchants to begin offering the service.

“NFC will have to improve on the 5 seconds it takes to pull out your wallet and swipe your card,” he said. “You have to get to merchants in a way that reduces their cost, saves them time and increases their sales, but no one has done that yet.”