In recent news, some companies have been making strides to process payments at retail establishments with mobile phones. While this has proven to be a convenience for some, there are still many issues that need to be resolved in order to convince the masses to adopt this new form of payment and ditch the traditional plastic cards and cash that Canadian consumers appear to be more fond of using.
In some countries mobile payments have become the prevalent method (aside from cash) because the technology had less barriers into the market place and debit and credit cards were either non-existent or not widely used. In Canada this is not the case of course and most Canadians have several plastic cards that they use on a daily basis to make their transactions. Add to this the fact that these plastic cards are now coming equipped with tap-and-pay there is less and less of a benefit to using your phone for these purchases since you will likely have to login to an app and ensure you choose the right payment account etc. which could actually take up more time than simply pulling out the right card. Furthermore, what do you do if you are on the phone taking a call? These issues are all causing some hesitation in the market place for Canadian consumers to adopt mobile payments from their cell phones.
The main reason that mobile payments from cell phones has not caught on in Canada is likely due to the fact that there is no centralized common system that is used to process these mobile payments. Each financial institution is using a different platform, program or system and this disconnect is causing a hindrance to the masses joining this new revolution. Additionally, each of these platforms and systems is trying to pitch their services to the market independently which is not nearly as effective as if there was a major dominating player that was flooding the market with information and ads promoting the concept and encouraging consumers to make the switch.
Overall it is hard to make a single system given the differences between cell phone makes/models, operating systems, security levels, hardware etc. One big issue of course is that of security because phones can become targets for fraud and hacking efforts in order to access financial programs and data. In comparison, there is no hardware in a traditional plastic card that is even close to the level of sophistication in a smart phone and your cell phone has many more vulnerability points that can be accessed that plastic bank cards simply do not have by design.
In time perhaps mobile payments will become more prevalent and common place in Canada as people begin to adopt the technology. As people convert, the system will become more sophisticated, safe, and the list of features may grow as well. Some day your kids may be grown up and paying the baby sitter of your grand-children by their mobile phone. Perhaps this will happen sooner than you think though so we should all be on the look out and give it a shot ourselves.