The concept of consumers loading their smartphones to make purchases that would normally require them to swipe a debit or credit card is gaining more traction, and companies are ramping up preparations to launch and secure these services.
In the next few months, the first two major digital wallet programs will be launched by some large companies, and competition for adoption among consumers and businesses alike is expected to be fierce, according to a report from the tech news site CNET. Visa's as-yet-unnamed mobile wallet program is expected to launch later this year, likely during the fall, while Google's planned Google Wallet payment system could be available to consumers by the end of the summer.
And while neither company will officially acknowledge that the other is in competition for adoption, it seems that the strategies they're using to launch their respective systems are very similar, the report said. Both programs will be open to any credit card, not just specifically branded ones, and both will likely try to drive more revenues by having targeted advertising and offers from merchants based on consumers' purchase histories. For example, Visa is already pilot testing a program with clothing giant the Gap to offer discounts to Visa cardholders through text messages.
However, Visa is also working to participate in a larger mobile payment system soon to be offered by the nation's largest mobile phone service providers as well, the report said. The ISIS program being offered by AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon will include participation from Visa – the world's largest transaction processing network – as well as its payments competitors MasterCard, Discover and American Express.
ISIS will be tested in the first few months of 2012 in both Salt Lake City, Utah, and Austin, Texas, according to a report from Computerworld. In addition, it's expected that Visa will license its PayWave software to the program. This will likely help to advance the security measures for all transactions made using the mobile payment system and help prevent debt management issues involving identity theft.
Whichever company is the first to be truly successful in the mobile payment industry will likely profit considerably. Analyst estimates show that the mobile credit and debit card payment industry will likely be worth as much as $44 billion annually by the end of 2015, as adoption is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years.