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There’s Mobile, and Then There’s Mobile

Theodore Iacobuzio |

Upon returning from a very fruitful and productive BAI Retail Delivery Conference, it occurs to the observer that hype is one of the worst things that can happen to a real technology advance. Of course it happens to all of them, but it has to be discounted each and every time.

At BAI in D.C. last week you could hear about mobile; when you felt sated with that you could always tune in about mobile; and for a change you could always sample the sessions on mobile. Finding a session that wasn’t about mobile was a little bit like trying to sit down to something besides steak in Omaha. It wasn’t impossible, but it took some doing.

Please don’t mistake: mobile is certainly real, and is certainly going to change payments irrevocably, globally, and not least in the U.S. But one of the costs of hype is the inevitable let-down. If a given technology does just what its proponents say it’s going to do, and, as a friend of mine likes to say, doesn’t turn out to grind coffee and chill beer as well, then it turns out to be in the eyes of skeptics a load of, um, malarkey. And in technology facile skeptics can be as unreliable guides as the unreflective consumers of hype.

Unrealistic projections of just how fast mobile take-up will happen, and the consequent unrealistic ROI timelines, are going to do nobody any good. A decent place to start is the MasterCard Mobile Payments Readiness Index (MPRI). There you’ll find out why mobile is going to happen, but that it’s early days right now. You’ll also be able to get a shrewd guess as to how it’s going to happen.

I think it has something to do with segmentation.

Topics: Payments Strategy

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