My mobile payment push (Take 2)

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  • June 24, 2011
  • INK Team

Back in February I wrote a blog post on the surge of mobile payment technology making its way into consumer’s hands. I focused on the (then recent) announcement of Starbucks mobile card application that lets you buy your morning coffee with a tap of a button. Revolutionary? At the time, to some, maybe. But the concept of paying with your phone is one that is here to stay, and increasingly growing in the U.S. market – a market that is ripe for consumerism among the masses. For those who live in a tech-resistant bubble, the big news over the last year has been the long awaited arrival of ISIS – a mobile payment platform being developed by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, and expected to roll out the first half of 2012 (initially in Austin, TX I might add).

What NFC really means.

For those who don’t know, and that’s apparently the majority of you, NFC stands for near-field communications, a wireless technology that lets two devices (like a phone and a payment reader) transmit data when held a few inches apart. Given our increasing reliance on mobile phones, NFC is widely touted as the technology that will enable mobile payment adoption. NFC technology has been implemented in the U.S since 2003, yet trials in the U.S. have stalled because various prevailing interests can’t align behind one standard. For NFC to take off and excel with consumer adoption, it needs to involve enough wireless carriers, banks, and retailers to be successful. ISIS will hopefully solve this problem, now that it is being offered to a more universal audience.

Other players in the ring.

Mobile commerce, or the ability to make payments through your phone, is emerging in many forms. Among the most high-profile are Google Wallet, which involves using a Sprint Nexus S 4G phone to shop at a select list of retailers with a Citi-issued MasterCard credit card; the Square reader app from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and separate browser-based payment systems from Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. While NFC is at the top of everyone’s minds, it is not the only technology being deployed to offer mobile payments. Be on the look for other categories of payments: P2P (peer-to-peer, think PayPal), POS (point of sale, think RFID chips and physical hardware interactions), and mobile commerce (think Square). Still confused? Refresh your knowledge here.

Local shout-out.

One company definitely making headway in the mobile payment arena is recent start-up Tabbedout (also an Austin local) who offers a free app for iPhone and Android smartphones that allows you to open, view, and pay your tab via your phone at participating bars and restaurants.  Now available in 90 cities in 20 states, this company is gaining attention and backing, with a recent $5.75M round of funding secured last month. POS market leaders including MICROS and Dinerware have allowed Tabbedout to capture nearly 70% of the full service restaurant and bar industry, with new merchants coming on board every day.  With security and convenience top of mind, Tabbedout is revolutionizing the checkout process while adding bonus features such as E-mailed receipts, social media check-ins and Cabbedout – a feature that connects you to local cab companies for a safe ride home.

Long story, made short: For an easier and more secure way to make your purchases, ditch that wallet, and jump on board the mobile payment wave.

Rick Orr, CEO of Tabbedout, being interviewed by KXAN-TV at Austin watering hole, Shangri-La

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