Retailers move in on mobile payments to reduce costs, increase loyalty

The mobile payment market is attracting big retailers who want to reduce transaction costs and increase customer loyalty, Reuters reports.

A number of large European retailers--including British supermarket chain Tesco and French retail group Auchan--have launched digital wallet apps that allow customers to pay using their smartphones as well as provide data on shopping habits.

Retailers are entering the mobile payment fray in order to provide discounts and rewards to customers, link payments to loyalty schemes and offer saved shopping lists and other features, the report notes.

"We view merchants as overall beneficiaries of the trend toward mobile payments. Expected returns should justify any incremental investments required in enabling mobile payments technology," Morgan Stanley.says in a January report cited by Reuters.

Leading U.S. retailers--including Walmart, Target and Best Buy--have joined together to develop the Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX. A year ago, MCX revealed that its cloud-based mobile wallet would support barcode-enabled transactions.  However, the MCX platform has yet to be deployed widely.

U.S. wireless operators teamed to set up Isis Mobile Wallet, which finally deployed nationwide last fall after years of regional testing. The Isis Mobile Wallet enables consumers to make purchases using an NFC-enabled smartphone, a SIM card and a free app from Google Play, as well as a special NFC-enabled point-of-sale terminal.

In addition, fast food restaurants such as Burger King and Wendy's, along with Starbucks, have recently launched mobile payment apps.

Credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard, along with tech firms Google and eBay's PayPal have already launched mobile payment initiatives.

Gartner estimates that the mobile payments market will be worth $721 billion with more than 450 million users by 2017, up from $235.4 billion and 245.2 million users last year.

For more:
- read the Reuters story
- check out the Gartner estimates

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