By Martin Bosworth
Originally posted at Private Intelligence. Feel free to comment here or there.
Although American consumers are currently slow to adopt paying bills by mobile, much of Europe and Asia is extremely comfortable with the process, to the point where the mobile phone industry is working on setting up universal operability standards to make mobile credit card payments all over the world. It’s obviously slow going, but the fact that there’s momentum at all is fascinating to behold.
One area where Americans ARE showing lots of interest is in alternative payment services such as PayPal, Google Checkout, Prosper.com, BillMeLater, etc. The amount of growth in these services seemingly isn’t fazing the industry giants, but you can’t believe that to be the case. Between increased regulatory scrutiny from a Democratic Congress, the specter of the interchange fee lawsuits, and the simple truth that consumers are just stretched too thin and can’t take on any more credit, the titans of plastic–Visa, MasterCard, and American Express–are definitely shook.
That’s as it should be. The idea of “buy now, pay later” may be too tightly integrated into our culture to ever get rid of, but we deserve methods of payment that won’t leave us trapped in indentured servitude. Until now, the heavy collusion of card companies and banks has produced an environment far too restricted to compete in. The advent of mobile pay and alternative pay services can only hasten REAL competition for our needs, which may also incite buyers to rethink whether or not it’s worth going into debt for that shiny widget.
It ain’t perfect, but it’s a start.