Whether retailers, either big or small, will actually see the benefit from mobile wallets is up for debate, according to a session at the Tomorrow’s Transactions conference in London.
“Retailers want loyalty and lower interchange rate [the fee charged to retailers for handling card transactions]”, said Greg Wolfond, founder and CEO of vendor Securekey.
Wolfond, who suggested that wallets could deliver these two objectives, was responding to a sceptical question from the audience.
As proof of his argument, Wolfond pointed to MCX, a US retailer-led mobile payments initiative which includes the likes of Wal-Mart, whose motives include gathering customer data (through loyalty schemes) as well as lowering interchange rates.
But Jane Zavalishina (pictured), CEO of Yandex Money, an online payments venture, observed that “the only retailers who will benefit from NFC and big data are the biggest ones. Guys on the corner will not see benefits at all.”
Whether small retailers can gain from mobile payments, or see their businesses threatened as a result, is a contentious issue.
However, Tony Moretta, marketing director of UK mobile operator-backed Weve, said part of its strategy was to target smaller retailers who do not currently offer their own loyalty schemes.
“We want to enable loyalty services for people who can’t afford it. We can do that for smaller retailers,” said Moretta.
Another market for Weve is offering mobile versions of existing loyalty schemes. He gave the surprising example of Boots, the leading UK chemist chain, whose Advantage scheme does not offer a mobile app for shoppers to redeem their loyalty points.
Tomorrow’s Transactions is organised by Consult Hyperion, a UK consultancy firm.