With all the recent mobile payment announcements from various providers of the technologies, there may be an under-the-radar trend evolving.
With much fanfare, Apple Pay entered the market so that anyone with an iPhone 6 could pay by tapping the phone at a point of sale terminal equipped to accept it, all courtesy of NFC (Near Field Communication) technology in the phone.
Then Samsung announced it was buying LoopPay, giving it the option of including the technology inside its next phone, the Galaxy S6. The LoopPay technology does not require NFC and works at pretty much any point-of-sale terminal where a credit card can be swiped.
Of course, Samsung phones also include NFC, so it could go both ways.
Then Google Wallet announced a takeover of the technology of Softcard, the long-troubled payment scheme of the joint venture of Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.
From the consumer viewpoint, all of those mobile payment methods work essentially the same, with a person bringing their phone to a terminal, tapping it and replicating and replacing the credit card swipe.
Now retailer Neiman Marcus is coming out with its own mobile wallet included inside its iPhone app.
The app was created by Capital One for Neiman Marcus and is intended to replace a credit card swipe.
The actual payment can be from Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf Goodman credit cards, or a general purpose card, whichever the consumer decides to load into the app.
And here’s the difference: rather than tapping the phone to a terminal, the app opens a QR code that the consumer holds in front of the reader, which is now in all Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores.
This is the same payment approach at Starbucks and Subway.
It’s also essentially the same approach being used by the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), rolling out this year in mega-chains like Walmart, Best Buy, Sears and Rite Aid, to name a few.
Companies are increasingly becoming able to include mobile wallets inside their own apps.
The question is whether over time consumers will come to expect this. And from whom.