One of the things that excites me most about the future of mobile payments is the tremendous amount of services and innovation that the new payment platform will unlock, services and innovation that are difficult to fully imagine today. Take one aspect of mobile payments: the ability to exchange data.
For the entire history of commerce, payments have been static transactions that did not contain or transfer any information beyond the value of the transaction. Payments have been incredibly stupid. Whether it was goods exchanged in barter, cowry shells, coins, or more recently paper bills and credit cards, the payee and payment receiver both retained virtually no information about the transaction other than its value.
Mobile payments hold out the potential to radically change that dynamic. Mobile phones have the ability to store and transmit lots of information embedded within payments. This information will flow in both directions (from the payer to the merchant and from the merchant to the payer) and the opportunities as well as challenges presented by the onslaught of data will be numerous.
In the course of this series, I will explore these opportunities and challenges in more detail.
For now, let’s look at what that data may include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Payer-to-Merchant: payee’s personal identification information, payee’s demographic information, geo-location, time of day, and of course the transaction value.
- Merchant-to-Payer: merchant’s identification information, geo-location, time of day, items purchased, price of each item and total transaction value.
These are the basic building blocks of some incredible innovations. They are also reason for concern and vigilance in managing privacy and information ownership. The combination of those two forces is an exciting area to explore further.
Photo Credit: “money” by fdecomite on Flickr.