When Will Mobile Payments Hype Hit the "Disillusionment" Phase?

For U.S. or other service providers hoping that mobile payments and mobile banking will become lucrative revenue streams, some now argue, and more likely will argue, that the effort is doomed, difficult or destined to failure.

The reasons are numerous, ranging from organizational culture issues to consumer resistance, lack of retailer incentives, insufficient base of end user or retailer terminals, uncertain or insufficient revenue models, lack of end user demand, or technology uncertainty and user interface issues. All of those are valid objections at the moment.

If a report published recently by Lightspeed is indicative of the mood of the American public, the vast majority really don’t care much about mobile payments, some would say.  Too much hype?

Lightspeed foundthat only about a third of bank customers were actually using smart phones, for example.

Of those smart phone users, only eight  percent thought mobile banking was very important and another 13 percent thought it was somewhat important.

When asked about mobile payments less than five percent thought it very important, and 11 percent somewhat important. All of those are typical, at the moment, just as it is conceivable to generate more optimistic expectations in some polls that show much-higher interest.



But it would be helpful to keep in mind that hype cycles are normal for consumer or business technology innovations. Some people would probably say “mobile payments” has not yet reached the peak of its hype cycle. Others might say it already has, but some of us would say the degree of “negativity” isn’t high enough, yet, to warrant that view.

But that will happen.But when it does, you are going to hear quite a lot of negative sentiment. It has happened with virutally every new and important application or technology, and there is no reason to believe mobile payments will escape the cycle of expectations.  Be ready for the skepticism.

But Steve Jobs was able to avoid hype cycles, if you think about it. Not all Apple products have succeeded (Newton and Lisa, for example). But that might be because Apple, virtually alone among successful big consumer products companies, does not “take surveys” to try and figure out what products to create, on the well-founded theory that consumers cannot give you accurate assessments of products they never have seen.

In fact, as some would note, had Apple ever taken a survey on consumer demand for an “easy to use” PC, it would not have built the Apple computer.

Also, the coming value of mobile payments, wallets and mobile commerce will proceed on many different fronts, on a pace that end users will dictate by their behavior, as well as the complexity of the ecosystems that must be created.

Beyond the eventual “trough of disillustionment,” the real business will be built.

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