Carriers charging into mobile-payment race
Sooner or later, a significant chunk of mainstream consumers are going to be making point-of-sale transactions using their mobile phones. The question is who will seize the lucrative middleman spot by offering a system secure and frictionless enough for customers and transaction fees appealing enough to get a critical mass of retailers aboard. Naturally, the current gorillas, Visa and MasterCard, have designs on retaining their hegemony, but the potential in mobile payments is drawing competitors large and small. Two fresh examples ripped from today’s headlines: Bloomberg reports that AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile are working with Discover Financial Services and Barclays Plc to test a system that would let a consumer pay with the contactless wave of a smartphone, and a start-up called Payfone, backed by Apple vet Bob Borchers, has emerged to join fellow mobile-payment aspirants like Zong, Boku and Venmo.