Antonio Longo is president of the Citizens’ Rights Movement and a member of the National Council for Consumers and Users (CNCU) and contributor to our special series: Mobile Payments Check-in with Industry Influencers
Two weeks before this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which showcases all the latest innovations and trends in mobile telephony, MasterCard Europe invited me along with a number of other consumer associations from all over Europe to its very own innovation corner. It appeared very clearly to me that innovation in the payments sector is key and that undisputedly, the future of payments is mobile.
However, as we were looking at all the new products and listened to the explanations on what these products could achieve, it also became clear to me that innovation cannot be a goal in itself. It can only “live” if it meets the needs of consumers. The trick is to understand what tomorrow’s consumers will need. This requires various options to be developed and tested by the industry and to be “approved” (or rejected) by consumers. The current focus on mobile phones seems an obvious path to follow but only time will tell us which of the myriad of payment possibilities that phones offer will be sustainable and bring real added value to consumers.
Yet, the liberty to try, test and approve new products requires a legal environment that provides certainty for the industry and consumers – allowing the former to develop, fund and bring new solutions to the market and the latter to freely choose from the proposed solutions.
As the EU is currently revisiting its legislative framework for payments, it needs to ensure that any new laws and regulation do not stifle much needed innovation nor question its crucial funding mechanisms, such as interchange. Where innovation has the potential to further reduce the costs of payments and simplify the way consumers pay, any measures contrary to those principles risk harming the consumer.