Where the problems lie

Sunday September 2, 2012

I fully understand that a lot has to happen before paying by phone becomes as convenient as credit cards. Just as the Web didn’t have many websites early on, mobile payment doesn’t have many stores accepting it. That’s bound to change over time.

But a few things might keep me away from mobile payments for good:

n Tracking: With several competing systems, it’s a pain to keep track of who accepts what, let alone which phones work with which program. As more get announced, mobile payment will be even more of a mess.

Businesses behind mobile payments need to start working together. It’s fine to compete, but make the competing systems compatible.

n Rewards: Mobile payment services need to figure out how to ensure that you get the same credit card rewards and benefits as you would paying with plastic.

LevelUp charges appear as LevelUp, for instance. So I’d get straightforward rewards as a percentage of my charges, but not the bonuses for spending at specific types of retailers such as restaurants and grocery stores. Many credit card companies offer insurance for car rentals if you pay with their cards, but Google won’t guarantee that with payments made through Wallet.

n Disputes: It’s not entirely clear to me what recourse I have should I run into disputes. What if Square lets a cashier charge the wrong person? What if I accidentally tap a card reader with Google Wallet activated?

I’ve never had problems working with my credit card company to resolve disputes in the past, but these new services are unknowns.

It’s possible dispute resolution will be smooth, but I don’t have the years of experience to back that up.

-- Anick Jesdanun


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