Banks, Retailers, And Phone Makers Each Have Mobile Payment Apps, Maybe Overwhelming Consumers

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

Is it possible to confuse consumers with too many apps for making in-store payments wtih their mobile phones? Retailers and stores hope not, since they’re all trying to capture part of a market that promises growth and loyal customers to merchants, and simplicity and convenience to consumers. Is that the case, or are all of these products simply different forms of backup for when people forget their wallets?

That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, since the “forgot my wallet but still want to go out to lunch” demographic is an important one. It may not be enough to justify the current spread of systems, though.

The Wall Street Journal looked over the market as a whole in light of Wells Fargo’s planned launch of their own payment app on Monday. There are three camps of payment apps: Apple, Google, and Samsung each have their own versions for users of their phones, though Samsung phones compatible with the system are also Android phones that could use Android Pay.

Retailers have their own apps; while the most familiar is probably the stored-balance and rewards app that Starbucks runs, retailers and food establishments like Walmart and even the Cheesecake Factory have proprietary apps. (The latter’s app has the adorable name of CakePay.)

One bank that isn’t interested is Bank of America, since the company believes that an array of payment apps that offer no real benefit to consumers doesn’t really help anyone.

“The road to mobile wallets is fairly littered with a variety of wallets that have proven an inability to demonstrate any meaningful value proposition for a customer,” the bank’s head of emerging payments and commerce told the WSJ.

Translation: if a mobile payment app uses a customers’ existing credit and debit cards, doesn’t provide them any discounts, and doesn’t let customers in to an exclusive rewards program, why does it even exist, and why should anyone use it?

Wallet War: Banks, Stores Slug It Out With Phone-Pay Apps [Wall Street Journal]