This was my first time attending the Mobile Payments Conference (MPC). Organizer TMCNet mixed things up a bit for 2014, moving the location from New York to Miami and running the event in parallel to one of their larger conferences, ITExpo. Not sure of what to expect, I went in to this event with an open mind to two plus days of learning and networking with some of the best and brightest from the industry, including representatives from MasterCard, ROAM, iConnect, Tyfone and FIS.
With just over 100 attendees in total at MPC and panels and keynotes touching on everything from mPOS to analytics to security, it was obvious to all in attendance that the world of mobile is about much more than just payments. From the very first panel discussion on Monday to the last conversations, one common theme was that the real value for everyone with mobile is the around the entire ecosystem, with commerce trumping the payment transaction in nearly every discussion. In the end, the form factor (NFC, QR, BTE, radio waves, etc.) really doesn’t matter all that much. It’s more about the customer engagement opportunities between the merchant or retailer and their existing and prospective customers. How can mobile commerce help businesses grow?
One of the other interesting points was the constant need for each speaker to ‘define’ mobile payments. While it was the overarching topic for the conference, it was defined and re-defined in nearly every presentation. Needless to say, it was obvious that there are varying interpretations of not only mobile payments, but also mobile POS (mPOS). Generally everyone understands the broadest, all inclusive definition, but when it’s broken down into the specifics, there are definitely subtle variances.
I think most, if not all, were in agreement that we’re not ‘there yet’ even though the opportunities are very exciting for all involved. For the SMB, there’s a lot of education that needs to be done and there need to be more connectivity points between all of the players in the immediate ecosystem (processors, hardware manufacturers, POS, and even application developers). And, even for the Big Box retailer, learning continues.
Mobile is going to change payments the way the Internet changed advertising fifteen years ago. What’s interesting about this evolution is the number of players in (and entering) the space. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a fun ride!