Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) Exploring Mobile Payment Options
As customers seek more ways to pay for purchases without using real cash, alternative payment methods are rising in popularity and demand. Debit cards and credit cards are common place of course, and occupy a large market share in the world of payments. PayPal also has growing aspirations, expanding the number of retailers each month that accept paypal as a means of payment. Now, banks are seeking to get into the fun too.
The Charlotte based banking behemoth of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) Corp is said to be testing a technology that allows a customer to pay at a store register by simply scanning an image with a smartphone, such as Apple Inc’s iPhone or Google Inc’s Android devices. The pilot program is currently being tested on Bank of America’s home turf, the Charlotte market. If successful, we may see a national rollout in the near future. These event reflect the latest effort by a financial institution to come out on top in the race to determine how people will pay for things in the future. As more and more consumers travel with and are reliant on their mobile phones, embedding a payment option into them offers a unique opportunity to grow revenue, while tapping into a new business segment.
At stake is a gargantuan market for global mobile payments, which the consulting firm Gartner expects to exceed $171 billion this year. New financial regulatory reform regulations have already sought to limit the exchange fees charged on debit and credit card transactions, though new technologies may be less restricted by them. Bank of America has partnered with Paydiant for the pilot program, Paydiant is a startup that has developed a technology to allow such mobile payments. It doesn’t require new phones or hardware for merchants.
The pilot began last week at five merchants in Charlotte, and will last three months. Currently, only the bank’s employees have access to the program and they can use newer iPhones and phones that use the Android operating system.
Bank spokeswoman Tara Burke commented “The pilots provide us with the opportunity to explore innovative mobile solutions, engage our customers and utilize their feedback.” Burke declined to comment on whether the bank is still considering using NFC technology but said it continues to test and monitor the marketplace. That technology suffered a setback this month when Apple did not embed NFC chips in its iPhone 5. NFC technology allows a user to wave their device near another, allowing a near frequency communication with a receiver.