The US is where the payments revolution will spark

Upgrading payments infrastructure is expensive. Less so when society decides to spend a sizable proportion of the required cash using mPOS.

Upgrading payments infrastructure is expensive. Less so when entire populations have decided to spend a sizable proportion of the required cash on their own personal mPOS devices. Payments advances don’t happen smoothly and continuously; they come in bursts, and the US is due one, writes Billy Bambrough

While the US has been slow to adopt EMV chip and pin security for card payments, this may swing in their favour as the money can be invested directly into mobile based payments, bypassing EMV cards altogether.

The US market has already demonstrated an openness to payments via mobile wallet: the Starbucks wallet has broken all expectations and gone on to become the most successful in the world and it is this success that’s the surest sign that the US will be the first to adopt mobile payments on a large scale.

The infrastructure “advantage” that the US current has is far from the only reason to believe it will be the first primary adopter of the mobile wallet. The US remains the land of credit and mobile wallets have the ability to make every store into a lender.

The Seattle-based coffee giant, which said in March that more than 14% of purchases in its U.S. stores are paid for through its app, has announced plans to allow users to order and pay remotely the pick up their purchases.

Starbucks has signalled that this isn’t going to go away any time soon, it will begin in just one area but will roll out nationwide eventually.

Starbucks is not going to stop advancing their app at this stage, the goal will ultimately be to get people to buy more stuff and, when combined with the data that a mobile app brings in on their customers, the logical step is to become not just a coffee merchant but a coffee lender.

The precedent for this exists today in London where the city’s transport system allows people to go into negative balance on their prepaid travel cards to the tune of one journey (about $3) confident that people will top up again soon.

Starbucks will know enough about their customers to be able to pre-approve regular users who have been consistently topping up their app over time with the ability to go overdrawn on their app, paying a small amount more for a cup of coffee than they would do if they were in credit.

Mobile payments have much more to offer customers and merchants than speeding up payments that are already quicker than required, or flooding customers with “loyalty” based offers. To be used to full effect retailers must stay on top of their big data, a task the Sqaure and Paypal have proved is not impossible.