LAS VEGAS — In a high-level digital wallets panel at the Money2020 confab that put on stage senior executives from American Express, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and Google the fisticuffs broke out quickly and involved only the latter two.
Don Kingsborough, vice president at PayPal, swung early and often on Tuesday and he hit on two big themes: NFC, in PayPal’s view, is not anywhere ready for prime time. In that company’s view, the letters stand for Not For Consumers.
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Kingsborough also insisted that digital wallets are not about advertising – a sharp smack at fellow panelist Osama Bedier, the Google Wallet guru who on many occasions has referred to the search giant as “an advertising company.”
The sub-text is that at his Money2020 keynote on Monday, Bedier also said – in a clear punch at PayPal, et. al – “we are not another mouth to feed when it comes to payments.” That is because Google, so far, has evidenced no interest in a slice of the fees involved in payments. It sees the cash coming through big data analytics and well-directed offers to consumers.
Back to Kingsborough, who threw another punch rooted in his statement that “consumer adoption is not that easy.” He elaborated that the 14-year-old PayPal has more than 100 million users and new entrants – read Google Wallet – will find it is not that easy to bulk up a user base.
Bedier shrugged that off, suggesting that if Google puts out the right services, the consumers will follow. He expressed no concern about PayPal’s significant lead in users.
A point where all panelists seemed to agree was that for any digital wallet to gain marketplace traction it has to be “simple to use and usable everywhere,” said Kingsborough.
Bedier’s wallet vision is that it will be “magical,” helping consumers track “every transaction they have ever made” and it will bring a range of targeted offers. He said, “It will happen in the near future.”
Said Kingsborough: “I don’t think there will be 20 [surviving] wallets out there. But there will be more than one.”
Said Bedier: “Consumers go to stores to make a purchase. They do not go to use a particular payments technology. Our goal is to remove the friction from buying” and he seemed to suggest, if Google does that, it will be one of the wallets that win.