Weekly Wrap: Mobile Mania

Willy Staley

By Willy Staley
Updated on Mon Jul 21, 2014

This week in particular was dominated by news in the field of mobile financial technology. As consumers become increasingly dependent on their mobile devices, there is great demand for the ability to conduct financial transactions with these devices. It appears that tech companies, financial institutions and even retailers are going to give consumers what they want.

We learned about a new mobile payments application from Dunkin’ Donuts on Thursday. Dunkin’ claims its coffee tastes better than Starbucks — if their employees laid off the sugar, we might have some way of discerning what Dunkin’ coffee tastes like, so we could weigh in — but their mobile app looks like the same thing Starbucks ditched last week for something better. It ain’t easy being number two.

Also this week, a rag-tag team of the nation’s biggest chain retailers got together to create their own mobile wallet, and they’re calling it the Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX for short — let’s hope these branding geniuses change that! According to reports, it seems the smartphone app will use NFC technology, allowing customers to tap their phones against a sensor at checkout. Cool. But NFC isn’t all that reliable or widely available.

Square, which recently partnered with Starbucks, just announced a new monthly payments pricing scheme. We’re not sure who it’s for, but it allows merchants to pay just $275 a month for their payments processing and zero percent per transaction.

So much mobile payments innovation, and yet we have no sense of whether this can ever be brought to scale or not. A guest post from Banking.com showed that, despite all the market research that has been done on mobile payments, we still have no idea how quickly the market is growing — but we do know it’s growing.

Whichever way the industry is going, we know that there will be a powerful roundtable of businessmen looking out for its future. The Mobile Payments Committee, as it’s known, will count AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Google, Isis, Capital One, American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, VeriFone, Intuit, First Data and other companies as members. Perhaps if everyone got on the same page, this completely unnecessary revolution could take place.

Finally, Discover joined Google Wallet so that cardmembers can now attach their cards to the mobile wallet’s app. Previously, only Citi MasterCards could be linked to Google Wallet. This could mean more card-issuers will come on board.

Things happened outside of the mobile payments space this week too, but not much. We took a look at the best (and worst) PFM tools. We also learned that the CFPB is hiring super-secret sleuths to investigate financial crimes…undercover. The blend of intrigue and tedium might actually balance out to make this a very normal job. And lastly: infographics! Check out this timeline of the (short) history of online banking.


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