Everyone in the mobile wallet market is a ‘wild card’

Investor’s Business Daily picks up on a research report from Jefferies today that claims the two biggest “wild cards” in the mobile wallet market are Apple and the MCX, the consortium of retail chains. Reporting on its own electronics payment summit this week, Jefferies said speakers at the event believe PayPal “is likely in the best position among the existing open wallet offerings,” and major credit card companies such as Visa and MasterCard are also well-positioned. But Apple’s huge iTunes database will be a powerful weapon in the battle for the mobile wallet, according to the research report, and MCX “may have a better chance than most to be successful.”
Jefferies’ breakdown of the market seems pretty accurate to me, but it’s akin to assessing a horse race when the competitors are still in the starting gate. PayPal and the credit card companies are indeed well-positioned, but none of those players have gained any real traction with mobile wallet offerings. Apple’s Passbook looks promising, but its iBeacon technology is a big question mark, and MCX still hasn’t announced a launch date. Meanwhile, Google has the assets that could still make its Wallet a success, and Isis could find an audience if its backing carriers begin to execute well. (No, I don’t believe that going to happen either.) The mobile wallet has created a tremendous amount of buzz for years, but the deck is still stacked with wild cards.