Telecom, Banks Starting Various M-Commerce Trials

Disparate mobile-payment-related moves from Bank of America, US Bancorp, Verizon and Visa this month show a continuing shift to mobile payment from key telecom and financial players. The moves are not aligned, which shows the type of multiple experiment efforts typical at the start of a major channel. Bank of America and Visa are beginning a mobile contactless payment trial to run from September through New Year's Eve in the New York metro area, with an identical trial at US Bancorp slated to start in October.

An unspecified number of consumers in the trials will be provided with contactless chips to insert into their phones. The problem with those trials is it's likely testing the wrong things. Few have questioned whether the payments will work. The issue is whether consumers will bother to make contactless payments. People chosen for these trials will be much more likely to participate, so it's not clear what they will prove. The Verizon trial comes in the form of a $400,000 investment by Verizon in CardStar, which consolidates CRM and membership cards in a phone, according to The Wall Street Journal.