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What Should a Mobile Wallet REALLY Be?

Posted by Rob Stringer, March 10, 2015 mobile-wallet

Part one of three. With all of the action around mobile payments lately, we have been asked by our clients, investors, and media what it all means. To that end, I’d like to ask the question back: “What should a mobile wallet REALLY be?” There are three main areas I’d like to cover: First, what we call a smart phone today isn’t a phone at all, and our continued usage of the term inhibits the creativity surrounding what it really could be – a device that connects a person to everything digital around them. Second, mobile wallets are about more than payments and the digitization and mobilization of payment, authentication, and identification data will happen, but it won’t happen until a few things get ironed out first, and Three, the things that have to get ironed out are big things like privacy, security, and usability. But these are issues that…

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Crazy week at Mobile World Congress as Consolidation Continues in Mobile Payments Market

Posted by Rob Stringer, March 3, 2015 fish-eat-fish

Caveat: My mom always told me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Samsung buys LoopPay Google buys Softcard PayPal buys Paydiant. Samsung buys LoopPay The first transaction (in order of announcement) was last week when Samsung (the one in South Korea) announced its deal with Boston-based LoopPay. Some pundits have been heralding this move as a home run for Samsung, as their S6 is coming out with Samsung Pay that works on NFC and with many traditional (in the US) mag stripe readers thanks to LoopPay’s MST (magnetic secure transmission) technology*. At best, this is a technology play that is a band-aid for the few years remaining in the life of mag stripe readers in the US, but it has the benefits of getting Samsung in the news. And as a technology, it mostly works, at least in the US. The jury…

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The other guy blinked: carriers score coup with Google's purchase of Softcard

Posted by Rob Stringer, February 24, 2015 softcard_google

In 2012, a group of mobile network operators in the US refused to allow Google Wallet to be preinstalled on their phones (and more importantly on their secure elements). As a result, Google Wallet never received the distribution it would need to succeed. An old west style standoff ensued. Google makes the operating system of the fastest growing segment of handsets that run on these carriers’ systems. But because Google maintains an open environment, it doesn’t control the devices the same way Apple does. Google Wallet is a distinct product from Android and thus lives within the larger scope of Google’s Android strategy (think back to Microsoft: would they let their Office product supersede Windows? I think not.) Google wants to get into payments via Wallet to monetize and facilitate their customers (merchants) access to commerce and to other Google services like search, adwords, and display advertising. The carriers control…

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Tokens are the future

Posted by Rob Stringer, February 15, 2015 tokens-are-the-future

Not Embracing Tokenization in 2015 is Unacceptable – Just Ask Anthem TJX Target JPMorgan/Chase Anthem What do these organizations have in common? They have all been hit by hackers and had customer data stolen. Two are retailers, one, financial services and the last, a health insurance company. Today, it is imperative that businesses, religious and civic organizations stop being careless with, or responsible for, their customer’s personally identifiable information (pii). Once the customer has been entered into the system and gone through the necessary Know Your Customer (KYC) steps, the sensitive pii should be locked in a secure digital vault accessible only by a trusted custodian (TSP). It’s this custodian who in turn issues host tokens as a proxy for this data that can only be used under certain predefined circumstances. All of that data can still be usable to the company/religious or civic organization or the customer, but the…

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Is ApplePay more like the Imperium or the Borg?

Posted by Rob Stringer, February 12, 2015 borgstyle

It’s a question we’ve all been asking. Here are two (fictional) opposing viewpoints. ApplePay is the Borg All bow to ApplePay. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. ApplePay was never going to play nice with others. Apple never has. Read Steve Job’s book (buy it here). Apple wants to dominate their competition. You had a nice industry making and selling CDs and the hardware that plays them? We will crush you with our iPod and allow our customers to digitize all your music into file formats that can ONLY BE PLAYED ON OUR PRODUCTS.   No “mixed tapes” here. Once you have joined, you will never leave the collective. Life is better here, more efficient. Payments will be no different. iPhone customers spend more than the weak competitor’s customers. Merchants covet Apple customers. Apple customers love Apple.   Worship Apple. (disclaimer: I am writing this on a MacBook, and I own…

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