Amazon pulls plug on Wallet

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is discontinuing its fledgling mobile wallet program. The retailer began informing users via email today that it would shut down Wallet, which was still considered in beta.

"We have learned a great deal from the introduction of the Wallet and will look for ways to apply these lessons in the future as we continue to innovate on behalf of our customers," said Amazon spokesman Tom Cook in a statement to c/net.

Whether Wallet could stage a return is unclear. Users will be able to use any gift cards with balances currently stored on the app, but balances won't be updated after Wednesday. Amazon's Wallet allowed users to store and manage loyalty and gift cards, but did not allow for credit-card payments. 

The future of mobile wallets is still unclear, despite the apparent early success of Apple Pay. The tap-to-pay program is a kind of beta test for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in that it's only available to owners of the newest iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is rumored to be in talks to acquire Softcard, another rival mobile wallet program. If true, Softcard and Google could create a serious second option for Android users. Softcard is available on all NFC-enabled Android devices from carriers AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.

"While Apple has a huge share of wallet, the number of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users is still relatively small," said Mark Ranta, senior solutions consultant, ACI Worldwide in an emailed statement. "This acquisition will result in more innovation from both Google and Apple Pay and push the envelope even further. You have two heavyweights that can now go head to head."

Contactless mobile payments are gaining momentum. According to a new report by Deloitte Global, by the end of 2015 the industry could reach a tipping point for the use of mobile phones for in-store payments, by which point roughly 10 percent of smartphones worldwide are expected to be used for in-store mobile payments with Japan leading the way. U.S. consumers are showing interest too, with 84 percent saying they would use a smartphone to make an in-store purchase.

*This story originally appeared in FierceRetailIT's sister publication, FierceMobileRetail.

For more:
-See this c/net story
-See this Gadget story

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