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

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