A mobile wallet war could well be in the offing as this new technology takes off, with providers falling over themselves for a first mover advantage in an area that could potentially snare them numerous transactions. Travel providers are getting in on the act, and SITA Labs offers some interesting insights into this growing new field, as outlined in this article by Tnooz.
Basically, 'what's at stake is huge', according to SITA Lab programme director Renaud Irminger. A lot of major companies, including Apple, Google, and Samsung, (not to mention all the up and coming players waiting in the wings) are already vying to become global consumers' wallet of choice.
The Right Tech is Key
However, sheer popularity alone may not be enough to take the mobile wallet crown. Having the right technology is also a key factor. For example, Apple has decided to develop its own technology and not to use the NFC (near field communications) option at present. Fair enough, Apple already has a great track record for tech innovations, and whatever it develops may eventually set the market standard. But for the time being, NFC is a fairly widespread choice for security reasons, so failing to integrate it may set Apple back in the early stages.
Other providers, such as Samsung, have already integrated the NFC technology, which brings them in line with the growing spread of point of sale technologies around the world that use NFC, plus contactless payment cards from providers including MasterCard and Visa. For the time being, contactless technology is used for small everyday transactions (under £20 in the UK for example). It's a quick and convenient way to purchase small items without carrying cash or the hassle of entering your PIN.
Travel providers are looking for smart ways to integrate mobile wallet technology into their digital strategy. It will certainly be fascinating to see what the early movers come up with.
Mobile Boarding Passes
In the meantime, electronic boarding passes are one way where the mobile device can be leveraged to make use of the mobile wallet technology. But there's a risk of fragmented technologies detracting from the power of the concept. SITA Lab believes that one unified API for boarding passes is the best way forward, and the company has already developed one. The advantage of this API for an airline is that it allows the airline's own tech people to handle the nuts and bolts, while the airline can focus on delivering the boarding pass directly and easily. Malaysian Airlines is already using the API for their mobile boarding pass solution, and others may soon follow.
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