Mobile payments, or the idea of paying using your mobile phone, seem to be providing an increasingly scattered choice of options for customers.
I just counted more than a hundred “wallet” apps on the Android Play Store. Visa has one as does Google, though it doesn’t work on all phones, and various apps let you store multiple credit and rewards cards.
The carriers have one called Isis, which can be downloaded from Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile, though only usable in the test markets of Austin and Salt Lake City.
Subscribers to U.S. Cellular in 26 states now are being empowered by the carrier to buy online and have the charges appear on their phone bill.
In other words, mobile payment options are all over the map. But the number of mobile ways to pay seems to be increasing rather than decreasing or consolidating.
This means a consumer will be able to use a mobile device to pay in a large number of ways.
The back end of this means they’ll get a number of bills, just as they do if they use multiple credit cards. Consumers already are conditioned to receive bills from multiple sellers resulting from household bills such as rent and utilities as well as from credit card providers.
Whether tapping a phone near a payment location via NFC (near field communication) technology, paying by texting, app or retail terminal recognizing someone in the store, the stage is still set for the customer to receive a number of bills.
Remember the promise of the paperless office? Better and faster printers enabled people to print more, faster.
The promise of mobile payments? The streamlining and simplification of paying for things with one device.
Think the promise will come true?
Chuck Martin is editor of mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk. He is author of “The Third Screen,” “The Smartphone Handbook,” and the soon-to-be-published “Mobile Influence.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute and a frequent mobile keynote speaker around the globe.