October 2014 saw several interesting developments within the mobile-payment industry- arguably one of the fastest developing markets at the moment.
The rumour-mill is in full force that Facebook is planning to introduce a peer-to-peer payments function. Leaked screenshots suggest that Facebook Messenger is planning for a feature which will allow friends to send each other money. Messenger’s payment option will allow users to add a debit card to Messenger and send friends money, in the same way they would photos. An in-app pin code will be present to ensure security. In the short-term this system will only support payments between individuals, however according to a note in the code group payments will be possible in the future. Facebook is yet to comment on the revelations, but there is speculation that the feature will be trialed in the US within the next six months.
Elsewhere, Square, the mobile-payment startup, has just raised $150 million in its latest round of funding, leaving the company valued at $6 billion. Dealing in mobile-payment devices and software which allow smaller businesses to receive credit card payments, Square gained first mover advantage in what is looking like being a very competitive niche of the market. However, with the arrival of Amazon’s credit card reader at a much lower price, as well as Apple’s forthcoming foray into the mobile-payments space, will Square be able to maintain its market share?
Asda, Sainsbury’s and House of Fraser, along with a number of other high street brands, have teamed up with mobile payments company Zapp. Zapp enables customers to pay for products using just their smartphones by shaking the device to produce a barcode that can then be shown at the till. For smaller purchases this will be able to done in a similar way to contactless payment using NFC technology. However, for larger expenditures, users will be required to log into their banking app, select the account they wish to pay from and a six-digit code for the shopping basket will appear.
It is not clear which of these companies, if any, will go onto to take a dominant market share. What is clear is that the mobile payments market is going to be hotly contested over the next 6-12 months.