Mobile wallets are getting more publicity since the deployment of Google Wallet. However, there are other major mobile wallet providers planning on giving Google a run for their money including Isis and Visa that could change the competitive landscape.
Google – The Early Front-Runner
Google Wallet has had mixed reviews as the first NFC mobile wallet system. Despite a growing list of supporting merchants, the system has had a ‘lukewarm’ reception. Though Google has knowingly deployed their solution into a premature NFC ecosystem, they remain persistent in adding value and publicizing their product (to the effect of a gigantic NFC-enabled billboard outside of the American Eagle Outfitters flagship Times Square store in New York.) Google SingleTap is the most attractive function within the wallet in which a tap of your mobile phone will process a payment, redeem any existing offers and earn loyalty credit all automatically at once.
Isis – The Potential Powerhouse
Isis has already won the support of numerous smartphone manufacturers and financial institutions, which has given them considerable leverage over their competitors. Isis is taking a different approach to rolling out their mobile wallet by holding off for the growth of more NFC-enabled phones. By the end of 2011, 12 new NFC-enabled phones are expected to come to market, although Isis has yet to identify any specific smartphones that will support their service. Isis has a strong foundation and their flexibility, with the number of smartphone and service providers on board, will undoubtedly attract already subscribed customers to their product.
Visa – The Diamond in the Rough
Visa has remained relatively quiet about their plans to introduce their own mobile wallet. They are already a supporting financial institution of Isis and announced in September that their payWave system will work with Google Wallet as well. Ultimately Visa wants their system to work with any smartphone, wireless carrier or financial institution. By placing their eggs into several NFC baskets, they will already have a sizeable involvement with mobile wallets before they ever introduce their own. This somewhat backwards approach may make Visa the ‘diamond in the rough’ and produce a head start for their own service when they decide to launch.
The next few months will prove interesting as we see how much NFC infrastructure is built. One question remains, how receptive will the Americas be to adopt this new technology? Only time will tell.
Note: This blog post was authored by Dan Mandell, Research Associate