Credit: Images of Money, Flickr.
I Hate Money
The mobile payments market is a coliseum full of starving lions and confused tourists right now, as new companies with new technologies try hard to convince an economy (many of whose members still use paper money) to switch to their new tech while traditional payment companies try to protect their interests and figure out how to remain big players in a rapidly changing market.
Personally, I’m just waiting for somebody to win. I hate having to go through awkward counter transactions, hate carrying cash and multiple cards, hate having to figure out how to split a bill, hate errands to the bank, hate daily reminders that a civilization that worries about exchanging pieces of paper, plastic, and 1s and 0s is still in its infancy.
Anyway, two articles on the topic of mobile payments caught our attention this week. In the first, a trio of people from Greylock Partners do a bit of byline squatting and declare in an article for Forbes that “the credit card is the new app platform.” Basically, they mean that there are so many squares of plastic out there that they’re not going away anytime soon regardless of new technologies. As a result, we just need to make those cards smarter, giving them capabilities like spending tracking, connecting online and offline purchasing, and consolidating all other cards in some form of economic Highlander.
Of course, a good way to entrench a new technology is to give it away for free, which is what fellow Boston company LevelUp seems to basically be doing with its “Interchange Zero” initiative, where they get rid of the transaction fee completely for merchants with their technology. This could be huge, as it would obviously appeal to merchants and is a differentiator for the company in this roiling mobile payments space. What this means for traditional payment transaction companies where the transaction fee has been a big part of their business for decades, we’ll have to wait and see.
So maybe that’s confused lions and starving tourists.