Verizon, AT&T, Sprint join Google, PayPal to battle mobile payments fragmentation
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), PayPal, Isis, VeriFone and Intuit are joining with operators Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ), AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA to forge the Mobile Payments Committee, an effort to create policies and business strategies to guide the fast-growing m-commerce segment.
Backed by the Electronic Transactions Association, an international trade organization with more than 500 members spanning all facets of the financial services industry, the Mobile Payments Committee aims to help participants more effectively tackle mobile payments challenges like technology standardization and interoperability, regulation and public policy, and merchant and consumer education.
"There are a lot of different pathways to enable consumers to use mobile payments," ETA CEO Jason Oxman told VentureBeat. "The idea behind the committee is to get all the players around the table, ask everyone to take off their company hats and put on their industry hats and talk about what issues need to be resolved." Verizon Wireless Executive Director of Federal Relations Jackie Moran will chair the committee, which is slated to meet for the first time later this month.
The range of companies making up the Mobile Payments Committee underlines the Wild West nature of the current m-commerce landscape. Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile are jointly spearheading Isis, the Near Field Communications-based nationwide mobile payments network slated to begin commercial trials this month. Sprint declined to participate in Isis: The carrier offers several Android smartphones that support the NFC-based Isis rival Google Wallet, which enables consumers to make purchases by tapping their device at more than 200,000 MasterCard PayPass-enabled merchant terminals across the U.S. Reports also indicate Sprint is planning its own competing contactless payment initiative.
At the same time, PayPal is ramping up its PayPal Here service, which enables small businesses and other users to process credit and debit transactions by swiping the card through a small, triangle-shaped dongle that attaches to their smartphone or tablet. More than 300,000 merchants in the U.S. and Hong Kong have signed up for PayPal Here since it launched in March. PayPal offers mobile wallet services available at national retail chains including Home Depot, Abercrombie & Fitch and Jos. A. Bank. Intuit's GoPayment and VeriFone's SAIL offer dongle-based card reader services as well.
Conspicuously absent from the Mobile Payments Committee: Square, which earlier this week announced an agreement to roll out its mobile payment services across coffeehouse chain Starbucks' 7,000 company-owned U.S. locations. Square offers dongle-enabled transaction services as well as corresponding smartphone apps; users are now processing more than $6 billion in payments on an annualized basis. Oxman said he would welcome Square's participation in the Mobile Payments Committee effort.
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