September 18, 2013

While mobile wallets certainly get a lot of hype, actual usage among U.S. consumers has not grown to a significant level. That's due to a number of factors -- such as giving consumers a compelling case to ditch their plastic cards -- but also because the mobile wallet space has yet to shake out a clear winner. There are a number of different wallet providers, and, perhaps most importantly, some wallet products are NFC-based while others are cloud-based.

However, could there be a tipping point in that last case? This week, Google Wallet decided to move further away from its NFC origins as it released an updated version of the app for all Android phones version 2.3 and higher, and to AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon subscribers, which will not have an NFC component. Initially, only Sprint customers could use the Google Wallet app.

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Part of the reason for the initial reluctance of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon to support the app was undoubtedly due to the telecom companies wanting to push their own mobile wallet product, the NFC-based Isis. However, there was some troubling news for that mobile wallet venture this week after Capital One announced it was ending its pilot test with Isis, without giving an official reason why.

Could this be a signal the market is moving away from NFC payments? Well, there are still several banks and card companies signed up with Isis, and NFC payments programs continue to be announced. So it's obviously too early to make any definitive statements. But it will be interesting to follow future mobile wallet announcements to see if this becomes a trend.

[See Also: Mobile Wallets: Hype Vs. Reality]

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as ...