Bank mobile-payment services not catching on
Customers tend to prefer PayPal and Google over regular banks for mobile-based payments.
A recent survey suggests that customers prefer alternate providers over their banks, at least as far as the fledgling mobile-payments market is concerned. So where does this leave Wells Fargo (WFC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Citigroup (C), who have already spent millions on developing and testing mobile payment solutions?
Over the past few weeks, we have noted how focused some of the world's largest banks are on technology -- more specifically mobile technology -- to make banking services more convenient to customers. Many of these services are actually provided by the banks for free to help increase their customer base. The banks stand to make money indirectly through other banking services and products they offer.
Mobile-payment services offer an all-new playing field for the banks. Not only are they convenient for existing and potential customers, the banks also stand to earn fees from merchants who process the payments on a per-transaction basis -- similar to the fees for processing credit card payments. It is therefore no surprise that the country's biggest banks have been working hard to implement their own mobile payment systems, with many of them also partnering with leading mobile networks. Notably, Wells Fargo has been toying with smartphone payment systems since 2007 -- something that it believes will help it earn more fee revenue in coming years.
Alternate providers preferred
Things aren't all good for the banks in this market though, if the results of a recent survey by the Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group on customers' preference on mobile wallets are to be believed. Banks are losing out to providers like PayPal and Google (GOOG) as customers have voiced an overwhelming preference for these mobile-based payment solutions over those from their banks.
This points to a bigger problem for the banks than a mere loss in the mobile-payments market. Incidentally, the payment systems from providers like PayPal and Google can be used by merchants as alternatives for bank-issued credit cards. This could be disastrous for banks, which make a substantial portion of their revenues by processing card transactions. You can understand the impact of a reduction in card fees on Wells Fargo's value by making changes to the chart below.
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Investors need to rethink that often-repeated belief, because times have definitely changed.
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