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A Thing A Bigger Thing

Friday, December 23, 2016

Expect more growth in mobile payments, banking

A vibrant stock market index and historically high ecommerce spending during the 2016 holiday season have given rise to bullish predictions for payments and retail in 2017. Financial analysts expect growing adoption of mobile technologies to drive digital transformation in payments, retail and banking sectors.

Derek Webster, Chief Executive Officer at CardFlight Inc., a software-as-a-service company that designed the SwipeSimple mobile POS solution, expects to see significant growth in mobile POS solution deployments in 2017.

"As the capabilities of SwipeSimple and other solutions have grown, mobile payment acceptance is serving more and more merchant segments," Webster said. "The underlying mobile landscape, including iOS, Android and the various hardware manufacturers, will continue to shift rapidly, so it's important to ensure that any partner you use in this space is nimble and able to react quickly to future market shifts or else you'll be left with obsolete software and hardware.

Expanded mobile wallet adoption

Webster additionally noted that millions of U.S. merchants can process near field communication (NFC) technologies, a relatively new development. "Long term, we are very bullish on mobile wallets and contactless payments as a payment method at retail and quick service environments," he said. "This won't be an overnight change, and likely won't fully tip during 2017, but we will see more and more places where NFC payments are accepted, and cardholders will start utilizing mobile wallets more."

WalletHub, a consumer advocacy company owned by Evolution Finance Inc., sees no winners emerging in the mobile wallet wars in 2017. WalletHub provides free credit scores and consumer advice on its website; it also reviews an array of financial products and mobile wallet schemes. The company anticipates a steady stream of new challengers to Apple Pay and Android Pay in the coming year, largely driven by brand-specific payment apps similar to Walmart Pay, CVS Pay, and Kohl's Pay.

"As consumers hopscotch between payment apps, banks will need to have sophisticated and nimble fraud defenses capable of recognizing which transactions, firing in from all directions, are legitimate and which ones may be fraudulent," wrote WalletHub analyst John S. Kiernan. "Consumers will likely not settle on a default payment app, even for person-to-person payments."

Digital banking platforms

D3 Banking, which provides a range of banking services accessible to consumers and business owners via laptop, smartphone, tablets and wearables. In 2016, the company participated in digital banking initiatives involving more than 1 million end users. D3 reported that plans are underway to move 1.2 million users from traditional infrastructures to D3's digital banking platform in 2017. This will involve a "multi-step approach, replacing disparate systems one channel at a time as existing mobile and online systems' contracts expire and/or as budgets that support modernization become available," the company stated.

Traditional banking software is not nimble enough for the increasingly dynamic digital banking landscape, D3 analysts noted. The company said it is committed to "deploying a digital core that insulates the consumer from limitations of legacy systems," while enabling banks and credit unions to react quickly to changes and mitigate risk.

"Breaking past the first generation of [siloed], disparate channels is profoundly shifting how consumers are able to interact with their financial institutions, said Mark Vipond, CEO of D3. "This new year will be a very exciting time as more regional and midsized institutions take the necessary steps to deliver a consistent user experiences enriched by data and analytics about the individual customer."

Apps to suit consumers

WalletHub's Kiernan expects the smartphone to solidify its place as "the center of our universe," as a valuable source of information that will inevitably attract more fraudsters. He also sees no end to a "steady parade of breakthrough apps" in 2017 designed to leverage smartphone technology and appeal to various consumer preferences, such as geolocation, mobile banking and airline boarding passes.

"In the payments world, innovation sometimes comes in with a big swoop," he wrote. "Most of the time, it pitter-patters in on baby steps. … I don't think we've seen the end of life-altering apps just yet. And in 2017, I think we'll see one that makes me say, 'Wow!'"


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