The Mobile Payments Tsunami

Spend Matters welcomes another guest post from NPI, a spend management consultancy, focused on delivering savings in the areas of IT, telecom, transportation and energy.

It's riveting to watch a technology trend cement itself into society. Most start out as a farfetched idea with legs, and spend years ambling towards reality. Somewhere along the way, the ambling turns into a full sprint, the scales tip and critical mass is achieved.

Right now, the mobile payments trend is approaching critical mass at breakneck speed. Eighteen months ago, mobile wallets and near field communications (NFC) were still ambling. But the advancement and widespread deployment of these capabilities are at the tipping point. If you don't think mobile payments will soon be a part of your everyday life, here are five reasons to think again:

  1. Gartner estimates there will be $171.5 billion in mobile payment transactions in 2012 (up 60 percent from 2011)
  2. PayPal just announced consumer trials of its mobile wallet service to 15 new retail chains including Abercrombie & Fitch, Advance Auto Parts, Barnes & Noble, JC Penney and Toys "R" Us
  3. This summer, Isis (the m-commerce network spearheaded by Verizon Wireless, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile USA) will test its NFC-based tap-and-pay platform at Aeropostale, Coca-Cola Company, Dillard's, Foot Locker and Macy's
  4. NFC-technology is making its way into accessories and other devices beyond the smartphone. For iPhone owners, DeviceFidelity offers a protective case with NFC to enable contactless payments, and HP now offers an ultrabook with NFC
  5. Samsung is banking on NFC capabilities to steal the iPhone's spotlight. The company's S3 smartphone (the official phone of the Olympics, by the way) will showcase Visa's mobile payment application, Visa payWave

Mobile payments have arrived. The question is: how will this trend impact your business? What will you need to do to support it? Will you need to invest in new vendor relationships -- or will you turn to your current vendor mix? What will the financial implications be? These are questions businesses should be asking now to prepare for this powerful wave of IT adoption.

- Jeff Muscarella, EVP of IT, NPI

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