Phone holds all the cards

Many shop­pers will spend from dig­i­tal wal­lets this Christ­mas, re­ports Rod Ch­ester

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TECH -

BY the time Aus­tralians are feel­ing the fes­tive spirit of Christ­mas shop­ping, many will be buy­ing gifts with their new dig­i­tal wal­lets.

Re­searchers are clear about the fu­ture of dig­i­tal wal­lets: They’re com­ing and have the po­ten­tial to trans­form on­line shop­ping, par­tic­u­larly for the in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple shop­ping on a mo­bile or tablet de­vice.

What is not clear is which of the dig­i­tal wallet op­tions con­sumers will want to go with and in what form.

At the Aus­tralian launch last week of the V. me dig­i­tal wallet, Greg Storey, Visa’s Head of V. me for Asia Pacifi c, Cen­tral Europe, Mid­dle East and Africa, de­scribed it as “a dig­i­tal man­i­fes­ta­tion of what’s in your pocket”.

“You have a phys­i­cal purse or wallet in your pocket that car­ries a num­ber of cards. V. me is the dig­i­tal ver­sion of that wallet,” he said. It sounds sim­ple, yet comS­core’s Dig­i­tal Wallet Road Map 2013 re­port re­leased in Fe­bru­ary found there was a “mud­dled un­der­stand­ing” of dig­i­tal wal­lets and their ben­e­fits and “the con­cept is of­ten diffi cult to con­vey and prone to mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion”. But it’s a hur­dle that an­a­lysts pre­dict will be met, with comS­core pre­dict­ing the num­ber of peo­ple us­ing a dig­i­tal wallet other than PayPal to grow from a cur­rent fig­ure of 12 per­cent to 50 per cent.

In the Why the Dig­i­tal Wallet Wars Mat­ter re­port, For­rester se­nior an­a­lyst De­nee Car­ring­ton says “Dig­i­tal wallet op­er­a­tors will wield new­found con­trol and infl uence”.

“Wallet op­er­a­tors will house the in­ven­tory of cards that con­sumers link to their dig­i­tal wal­lets and will pro­vide the abil­ity for con­sumers to defi ne how those cards are used un­der dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances,” she says.

“Wallet op­er­a­tors will also con­trol which of­fers, in­cen­tives and value- added ser­vices are present in the wallet.”

Visa’s launch of V. me comes about four months af­ter ri­val MasterCard launched MasterPass, its dig­i­tal wallet.

Per­haps not sur­pris­ingly, the two launches in­volved sim­i­lar state­ments.

Mr Storey said Visa’s dig­i­tal wallet so­lu­tion V. me would of­fer “ease, con­ve­nience and sim­plic­ity when pur­chas­ing on­line”.

Back in Fe­bru­ary, MasterCard Aus­tralia divi­sional pres­i­dent Ed­die Grob­ler used al­most the same words, say­ing its dig­i­tal wallet was about “con­ve­nience, ac­ces­si­bil­ity and se­cu­rity”.

Both of the ma­jor card op­er­a­tors have teamed up with a swag of banks and key on­line busi­nesses.

MasterPass is avail­able now and V. me will be avail­able by Christ­mas.

Both also say peo­ple will be able to store a range of credit and debit cards in their dig­i­tal wallet, in­clud­ing cards from ri­val com­pa­nies, and fu­ture de­vel­op­ments will in­clude spe­cial of­fers through loy­alty cards de­liv­ered through the dig­i­tal wallet. Not that this is a bat­tle be­tween two play­ers. Part of the chal­lenge in pre­dict­ing the fu­ture of the dig­i­tal wallet mar­ket is that there are so many play­ers of­fer­ing so many mo­bile and dig­i­tal wallet so­lu­tions.

The Google Wallet ( not yet avail­able in Aus­tralia) and Ap­ple Pass­book are dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the dig­i­tal wallet con­cept, while five mil­lion Aus­tralians al­ready use Pay Pal ac­counts to buy prod­ucts on­line – in­clud­ing from more than 90,000 Aus­tralian mer­chants.

In May, EFT­POS an­nounced it had part­nered with mo­bile trans­ac­tions tech­nol­ogy provider C- SAM in work­ing on a mo­bile phone dig­i­tal wallet that would work on touch- and-pay tech­nol­ogy, in­clud­ing NFC ( near field com­mu­ni­ca­tion).

The sys­tem will let peo­ple pay for brick­sand- mor­tar trans­ac­tions by swip­ing their mo­bile phone.

While the EFT­POS so­lu­tion is dif­fer­ent to V. me and MasterPass, which are de­signed for sim­pli­fy­ing on­line shop­ping, it has the po­ten­tial to be widely used given more than 6.2 mil­lion EFT­POS tra- ns­ac­tions are made each day and last year Aus­tralians spent $ 134 bil­lion at 504,000 mer­chants us­ing 764,000 EFT­POS ter­mi­nals.

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