With the rollout of Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and other major mobile wallets a year or more behind us, much of talk around mobile payments has been centered on which big platform is winning the battle for user adoption and ubiquity. And as user adoption has in some cases lagged the more optimistic predictions (imagine that!) this has led more than a few industry observers to conclude that the mobile payments space as a whole is now more about quiet consolidation than brash experimentation.
But if anything, innovation may be accelerating in the space, among global players and niche startups, and everything in between.
On the “big” side there is the news that Facebook has launched a “Marketplace” service which lets users buy and sell goods with other users who are geographically nearby.
For the time being there is no integrated payment function in Marketplace, but given that Facebook already has a peer-to-peer payment function embedded in its Messenger app it is likely that Marketplace could soon become a major exchange for mobile money.
The new exchange, which is rolling out initially in the US and some other Anglophone countries, formalizes and builds on the already huge presence that Facebook has in this area, largely through user-formed groups. As such, it is an excellent demonstration of the power of users to lead the way in developing new and dynamic mobile payment use cases. It is also another indication that social commerce continues to be on the rise. (See our earlier announcement about Celllum’s cooperation with fastacash for more details on this potentially trillion-dollar market.)
Meanwhile, on the “small” side, consider this interesting feature by Bloomberg News last week about a payment device called the “Scrip” being developed by the US design firm which perfected the popular Fitbit activity tracker.
Designed to snuggle into the change pocket of a pair of pants, the Scrip aims to enhance the digital payments experience by giving it a physical element in the form of a surface that changes every time it is used to make a payment. (Users load value onto it from other mobile devices.) Aside from the “wow” factor, the tactile feedback aims to inspire a degree of spending restraint, by making purchases seem less virtual and more “real.”
Whether the Scrip or even Facebook Marketplace catches on, one thing is certain. If you think mobile payment innovation is stagnating, think again.