Move over Google Inc., Isis, PayPal Inc. and all other mobile payment initiatives. Retailers have their own ideas about how mobile payments should play out at the POS. According to several published reports, a group of about two dozen retailers is working on a mobile payments network of their own.
The reports indicated retailers are unhappy with the mobile payment systems being designed by banks, the card companies, mobile carriers and their technology partners. Retailers are said to want more customer-centric mobile POS services.
Big-box giants Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. are the only retailers confirmed as participating in the project. Chances are good none are among the 20 or so merchants that have signed on already to accept mobile payments using Google's new Google Wallet.
Mobile payments - especially those based on near-field communications (NFC) technologies - are predicted to be the next big POS trend. U.K.-based Juniper Research, forecasts $50 billion in NFC-enabled payments, worldwide, in 2014. Closer to home, PayPal said it expects to handle more than $7 billion in payments initiated using mobile devices in 2012 alone.
Isis is a project of JVL Ventures LLC involving the leading mobile carriers and all the leading card brands. Isis also has agreements with leading POS device manufactures; its official launch is expected in 2012.
Despite all this activity on the development front, the international consultancy Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu warned that "the complexity of the NFC value chain is a possible barrier to expanding the NFC payment market."
In a new report, NFC and mobile devices: payments and more!, Deloitte also indicated consumers may not be clamoring to use their mobile devices as "digital" wallets. It cites one 2011 survey, for example, in which one in four consumers expressed concerns about things like security and battery life of mobile devices that would be used for mobile payments.
Retailers tried to go it alone before
This isn't the first time retailers have tried to break away from banks and take control of electronic payment initiatives. In the late 1980s, as electronic check authorization and guarantee services began to take root at the POS, a group of large national merchants began their own initiative, called the Shared Check Authorization Network (SCAN).
SCAN differed from bank-oriented POS check authorization services at the time in that it was a centralized database limited to information about bad checks and check-writers contributed by members and owners only. It survived on its own for several years, but eventually, SCAN was acquired by a bank services company.
Today SCAN is operated by Certegy, a part of Fidelity National Information Services Inc. Certegy said the database includes information contributed daily by more than 500 retail chains.
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