Are We Going To See Three Mobile Payment Systems Competing In America?

Google Wallet was the first of its kind, released into a world unprepared for it. It allowed you to use your phone (provided you had a Nexus S) to pay for items just by tapping your phone onto a special sensor (provided the store had the sensor). In theory, this was an amazing payment system. Unfortunately, things just never worked out. Google Wallet only supported one type of bank card, meaning most people couldn’t use it. Stores were slow to adopt these sensors (even with banks like Citi pushing debit cards with an NFC chip built in that works with the same sensors). Only one phone could use it, and only on one carrier.

Things are a bit different now, but not much better. Supported devices can be counted on one hand (in fact, the Sprint Galaxy SIII will be the fifth). More stores have the sensors (including some big ones like 7-11 and Walgreens). I pay at both with my NFC bank card, and my cousin has purchased us some energy drinks with his Galaxy Nexus on multiple occasions. Still, only Sprint users have Google Wallet officially available to them, and Sprint is not exactly the biggest or best network around. Google Wallet is nowhere near popular or accessible. As an AT&T user with NFC built into my phone, it’s frustrating to not be able to use it.

Google Wallet may be disappearing completely soon. Sprint is reportedly creating its own mobile payment system for its phones. It will replace Google Wallet on Sprint phones. If its only home is gone, where will Google Wallet go? A system only available on unlocked phones off of Google Play Store will not work. Not many people buy unlocked phones. Sprint was the only one who gave Wallet a chance, and now that chance is possibly disappearing.

Sprint’s system will probably fail too. One smaller carrier can’t compete with ISIS. For those of you who don’t know, ISIS is a mobile payment system being pioneered by AT&T and Verizon for their phones. It embodies exactly what a mobile payment system should be. It has support for many banks (at a point where it isn’t even out yet, it supports many banks, when Google Wallet still supports one after so long). It will have support for the two biggest carriers in the US. It will be available for many phones, hopefully even the AT&T Galaxy SII.

You may be thinking, “Is the future of mobile payments finally here?” Well if you are anything like me, probably not. See, Google controlled Wallet and Google supports people like me. The hackers of the world got a message warning them that their rooted devices don’t support Google Wallet because of security reasons, but Google still allowed you to use it without any sort of modifications. It just worked. ISIS will probably be the exact opposite: We will see a full crackdown on rooted phones. Since the carriers control it, and the carriers hate root, they will keep it from us. And the hackers will do their best to get around that limitation, but there is only so much they can do. This scares me. The best mobile payment system, and I can’t use it just because I like to take full advantage of my phone, just as Google and Samsung envisioned it (and yes, Samsung is supportive of the hacker community. They hired Cyanogen himself and sent free Galaxy SII’s to developers to make sure AOSP was available to us).

Will we see three different systems competing? Or will Sprint and Wallet die out when ISIS launches? Wallet 2.0 is being developed, so let’s hope Google somehow gives it a big push. But there is little to be done when the top two carriers have their own system. I still do want Google to be in control, as I do not want to be screwed over by my carrier just because I use a rooted device. I guess we will just have to wait and see. What are your opinions on this? Tell us in the comments!

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