Mobile Payments

LevenTech Position
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Mobile Payment technology was available years ago, but delivery to consumers was delayed for years by the greed and incompetency of AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile USA.
Ever since the first iPhone took the world by storm in 2007, people have dreamed of waving their phone in the air to make a payment. It seems obvious that our personal electronic devices would be more secure and more convenient than using a piece of magnetized plastic.

Unfortunately, the capabilities of this new technology have taken a backseat to the discord between the companies involved. A successful mobile payment system would require the successful integration of a smartphone OS (mostly controlled by wireless carriers), the card-issuing financial institution, and enough supported stores to make it all worthwhile.

Google kicked everything off by developing NFC support for Android 2.3 and adding mobile payment capability to Google Wallet. Without any interference, adoption would have been relatively swift: a small group of early-adopter consumers would motivate the early-adopter stores, creating a cycle of user growth. But there was interference…

Until very recently, most smartphone users were locked into 2-year contracts for their phones, putting the wireless carriers in a position of massive power. Carriers frequently used this power to pre-load their own software and disable competing software in the operating systems of the phones they sold. Many users who wanted to use Google Wallet were blocked from doing so by their carrier, who wanted to create their own competing mobile payment system.

Eventually, the carriers did create their own system. But it was terrible. It didn’t support either Visa or Mastercard, essentially making it useless. The only supported payment type was American Express Serve, which was basically just an online debit account.

It took 2.5 years (and an unfortunate name change due to a conflict with the terrorist organization ISIS) before the carriers ultimately agreed that their home-grown payment system had no hope. Google purchased a majority of the intellectual property and adapted it into Android Pay (the new version of Google Wallet).

Timeline:

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Android 2.3 Comes out with NFC Support (Dec) Google Wallet launches (May) Isis soft-launches (Oct) Isis changes name to Softcard (Sept)

Apple Pay launches (Oct)

Softcard shuts down (Mar)

Android Pay launches (Sept)

Samsung Pay launches (Sept)

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