Mobile wallet changes won’t come until incentives do as well

Experts say consumers may be too comfortable with the current way they take on credit card debt to make a quick change to the kind of mobile wallet service now being developed by numerous companies.

These days, there are a large number of reports about just how close consumers are to having easy access to mobile wallet programs that will revolutionize the way they shop, but some caution that consumers will need a good reason to switch their current payment habits, according to a report from Bank Systems and Technology. Several high-profile mobile wallet systems are either already available or soon will be, but there will have to be a much bigger push beyond simply making them open to the public.

Google's already-released service, Google Wallet, will soon face competition from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon's Isis program, which is slated to come out later this summer, the report said. While Google has partnered with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover to link customers' accounts to their Wallet profiles, Isis struck deals with Chase, Capital One Financial and Barclaycard.

Similar systems are popular in Far East countries, such as Japan and South Korea, which began receiving the technology in 2003, but consumers in other nations have been slower to adopt them, and similar hurdles are expected for U.S. credit cardholders, the report said. That's because, as far as consumers are concerned, they have no reason to switch to the new system for any other reason than the novelty of doing so, and that likely won't be powerful enough to push widespread adoption.

Consumers, it seems, like the current system just fine, the report said.

"Our system is not broken," Kumail Tyebjee, senior principal of the mobility and digital practice at Infosys, told the news site. "It works really well. I can take out a card, swipe it and in an instant can transmit funds to a merchant."

So what might work?

Because banks and businesses in other industries seem so committed to pushing mobile wallet initiatives, it seems that adoption of these systems is somewhat inevitable, the report said. As a consequence, it is likely in banks' best interest to begin pushing incentives related to these programs, or at least do a better job promoting the benefits of such a system.

For example, some may choose to create partnerships with other businesses to make adoption a more convenient way to live life, such as by linking tickets to events purchased online to mobile wallet accounts, meaning that consumers will be able to use their phones to attend concerts and big games, the report said. Others may choose to highlight the safety features that mobile wallets provide over traditional credit cards.

In the latter case, though, consumers may need to do more to protect their finances. In these cases, checking their credit reports may help them to identify any unfair markings that may be having a negative effect on their credit score.