Proof that Mobile Payments Are Growing: A Super Bowl SNAFU

Carl Weinschenk
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Mobile payments are a bit confusing to many folks: The concept includes several iterations, most of which have been slow to take off. Part of the reticence is that anything having to do with finances or the transfer of money and mobility raises security concerns, even if the plans under consideration inherently are more secure than existing credit card approaches.

The best sign that things might be moving in the right direction for the category is that it has experienced a problem. Venmo, a mobile payment app from PayPal, enables people to easily transfer money. On Sunday night, the company used Twitter to say that it was experiencing slowness and to ask people to be patient. The almost certain reason – one that was obliquely acknowledged – was that the problems were caused by high traffic as people settled their bets from The Broncos Super Bowl upset of The Panthers.

The irony is that PayPal ran a spot extolling the virtues of mobile payments during the game.

The category is showing signs of stirring. Indeed, Packaged Facts suggests that it is going to get quite hot. Last week, the firm published the fifth edition of its study of mobile payments in the United States, finding that mobile payments at the retailer point of sale will hit $23 billion this year, an increase of 54 percent from 2015. Robust growth is seen through 2019. The press release is optimistically themed:

Presently the market is benefitting from activity involving a quartet of major industry players: PayPal, Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Starbucks. Significant payment usage via the Starbucks private label mobile app and the PayPal general-use digital wallet, in addition to growing usage traction for Apple Pay and Android Pay, are at the center of this thriving industry.

The Providence Journal delineates four mobile payments players and the upward trend in the market. Android Pay, Samsung Pay and CurrentC debuted last year; Apple Pay entered in 2014.

IT and security managers, especially those employed by retailers, must pay close attention to these developments. A key to continued growth will be security, which could be achieved through tokenization, a promising approach to mobile payments, according to Samsung, and other methods.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.


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