Breaking The M-Payments Logjam? Major Players And Rivals Join ETA Committee
As the m-payments space becomes increasingly cluttered, confusing and bogged down, there may actually be a path forward for more standardized models. In what could prove a breakthrough for using cell phones as payment devices, the Electronic Transactions Association has gotten almost all of the major players onto a single Mobile Payments Committee to hash out industry-wide solutions and navigate the policy and business models around mobile payments.
While previous groups had succeeded in joining together various clusters of the players in the space, the ETA Committee is notable in the extensive reach of participants, many of which have been rivals in the early days of m-payments. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and the current coalition of carriers and credit card providers, ISIS, have all signed on. The major credit card companies and banks, including American Express, Visa, Wells Fargo, Discover, and MasterCard, are included, as well as some of the incumbent digital players such as Intuit, PayPal and even Google on the roster.
The Committee will have its first meeting soon, led by Jackie Moran, executive director of Federal Relations, Verizon. Its charge is to help hash out the business relationships necessary to maintain innovation in the field but ensure interoperability of m-payments among all of the merchants, credit card companies, mobile networks, banks, and end-point hardware and payment network operators. Currently, solutions like Google Wallet or PayPal’s mobile payments products work with select merchants or on a narrow range of devices.
Some of the startups in the mobile payments market were not included in this initial announcement. Most notably absent was the hot company Square, which just announced a major deal with Starbucks this week. Square offers anyone the power to access credit card payments systems via a smartphone card-swiping attachment. In an interview with VentureBeat yesterday, ETA CEO Jason Oxman said he would welcome Square’s entry into the ETA
In the ETA’s formal statement, Oxman said: “Our industry must work collaboratively to ensure that the regulatory and business environment promotes innovation and cooperation. As the trade association of the payments industry, ETA is the hub of activity in mobile payments, and our Mobile Payments Committee will help ensure that consumers and merchants have access to an efficient, reliable and secure mobile payments system.”
The Committee is also charged with crafting best practices for the field as well as educating legislators as they inevitably craft public policy around mobile payments.
The ETA has a special authority in the payments market, since it already represents over 500 companies that are responsible for over $3 trillion a year in worldwide electronic payments.