Smart payments are a dead end

Dead-End-286While mobile tech companies, including Apple and Samsung, are getting all enthusiastic about mobile payments, they are almost certain to be a dead end.

Market Platform Dynamics Chief Executive Karen Webster told the Code/Mobile conference in California that mobile payments have been slow to catch on with the world’s consumers.

The reason is fairly obvious. They are not solving any real consumer problem. Shoppers don’t have any difficulty pulling a credit card out of their wallets.

Rather, they’re most concerned about whether they’re getting the best deal for the item they’ve just purchased.

Adding technology at this end of the transaction is pointless, she said.

If she is correct then there are a lot of companies and banks which are going to end up with egg all over their face. They have effectively conspired to bring in tech that no one really needs to and requires a lot of up-front investment.

But thinking about it, the tech industry has been doing a lot of that lately. The smartwatch concept was based on the fact that people would not want to pull their phones out of their pocket. Anyone who wants to spend $450 to avoid using that much energy has serious problems – they don’t need technology they need counselling.

The only way the mobile companies, such as Apple and its ilk, make any sales at all is by making the act look cooler than it actually is. Opening your smartphone and waving it at a screen does look way cooler than waving a piece of plastic, but it is not more or less convent.

Technology companies, particularly in the more desperate mobile world, are just re-inventing the wheel with some increasingly silly ideas. In Apple’s case it pays off. Its fan base will queue for a dog turd if it had an Apple logo on it. Its fans have been screaming at their banks threatening to take their overdrafts elsewhere if they do not adopt Apple Pay.

However, if Webster is correct and the majority of saner users are not going to bother, particularly once the novelty has worn off.