The year of the digital wallet

Image2011 was the year to talk about the digital wallet. A Google search for “digital wallet” will deliver about 250,000,000 results… just for the past year.

Although the conversation around the space is white hot, George Constanza’s wallet will continue to be valuable for years to come. 2012 will not be the year of the digital wallet, neither will 2013 or 2014 or even 2015.

First, the market is yet to be clearly defined. The “digital wallet” market includes solutions like: mobile payments using NFC technologies that allow consumers to wave-and-pay using their phone, barcode or QR code scanning for self checkout or price comparison, and coupons or loyalty rewards which are linked to your account or phone instead or a card or cutout.

Second, the there are a myriad of potential solutions coming from every direction including merchants (e.g. Starbucks), financial institutions (e.g. AmEx Serve) and tech companies (e.g. Google Wallet).

Unless you are a financial institution, mobile carrier, or technology company you are best to wait until the dust settles. Consumer adoption will be low and fragmented and the likelihood of guessing wrong and investing in the wrong space is high.

Two posts that describe the space well:

Forrester Research Blog “The Battle For the Digital Wallet”

http://blogs.forrester.com/benjamin_ensor/11-11-25-the_battle_for_the_digital_wallet

Fast Company Infographic “Mobile Melee”

http://infographics.fastcompany.com/magazine/161/smartphone-infographic.html

Is it time for a mobile website?

There are three variables that should be at the top of your list when answering this question:

  • What is the business goal/value?
  • What percent of my users access the mobile web?
  • What is the cost of entry?

The first question only you can determine. Included below are some stats and tips that should help answer the other two.

A Forrester Research report “Making The Case For The Mobile Internet” by Julie Ask. In this report, Forrester provides some data showing that adoption continues to grow, frequency is growing quickly and more users are accessing the open internet instead of their carrier portals online. Checking your site analytic browser stats will tell you if your specific users are in-line with these trends.

A Mashable article originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, and highlights 8 Tools For Easily Creating a Mobile Version of Your Website.

With adoption up and cost of entry down, it’s time to evaluate the business value of mobile websites again.