Google Wallet, the mobile payment system developed by Google, has widely been considered a flop since its September 2011 release. Various events – from the departure of the product’s VP to security concerns and retailers’ refusal to support Google Wallet – have made its progress to date unimpressive, but that doesn’t mean the future of Google Wallet will be perpetually bleak.
Osama Bedier: An Up-and-Down Journey
Although Google Wallet hasn’t seen the success it hoped, the product’s former VP still has a very impressive resume. Osama Bedier had worked at PayPal for several years prior to Google, in addition to investing in Coin – a digital card that can hold an assortment of credit and debit cards.
Bedier left Google in 2013 to pursue “other opportunities.” Google Wallet’s struggles were a large reason for his decision, with many mobile carriers outright refusing to support Google Wallet; this made for a very frustrating technological landscape. “Nobody today is delivering any solution that will get scale, including me,” Bedier commented around the time of his departure from Google.
How Apple Pay fits into that worldview remains unclear. What is clear is that, as Apple Pay gains popularity among American consumers, retailers will be looking for a perfect point-of-sale device to go with it. Mr. Bedier’s latest creation may very well fill that need.
Swipe-and-Sign Cards: No More
The U.S. remains one of the last major markets to cling to the swipe-and-sign credit card system; this is one of the biggest reasons why 50% of credit card fraud in the world occurs in the US. To combat this, credit card giants like MasterCard and Visa plan to a shift to a new payment system known as EMV in October 2015. This will replace swipe-and-sign with chip-and-PIN, which is especially accommodating for digital wallet hopefuls like Google Wallet, whose previous attempts to popularize have been halted by EMV payment being non-mandated.
The thinking is, as EMV takes off with the American public, so, too, will the public’s willingness to accept methods like Google Wallet, which credit card companies and mobile carriers will have no choice but to comply with, at least by October 2015.
Introducing Poynt: Bedier’s New Creation
Bedier’s newest invention is Poynt: a point-of-sale machine that is essentially an all-in-one device for payment transactions. It accepts NFC (Apple Pay), magnetic stripe (today’s credit cards), EMV, QR code (Starbucks) and Beacon (Bluetooth technology that has yet to truly emerge). Included in Poynt is a 4.3-inch touch screen for typing in PINs, a tiny receipt printer, a rechargeable 8-hour battery, 3G/4G modem, and a 7-inch quad-core Android tablet.
Poynt is also promising due to its open-source platform, which will help enable developers and retailers to develop specific apps that align with their product or business. In addition, Poynt also integrates every encryption imaginable to secure payment data, including (but not limited to) industry-standard SSL, DUKPT, TDES, PKI and AES encryption.
The Rosy Future of Mobile Payments
As machines like Poynt become a staple in grocery stores, chain stores, and even mom-and-pop shops across the world, it’s very conceivable that Poynt could become a hugely popular form of digital financial transactions. Although he may have been premature in initially unveiling this technology in 2011, there is little doubt that the market of mobile payment systems may soon have a coming-of-age.
With his attention less on Google Wallet specifically and more on the entire market of mobile payment systems, Bedier’s recent unveiling of Poynt strongly suggests that multi-platform payment functionality will be extremely important throughout the next several years as the general public becomes more accustomed to mobile payment technology that replaces even our most familiar existing technologies.
In short, Poynt may fill the unlikely role of not only saving Google Wallet from obsolescence, but also helping its biggest competitor – Apple Pay – gain momentum among American shoppers. Chalk up another win for open-source solutions.