KBW Talks One of the Biggest Mobile Payments Shows of the Year: Money 20/20

November 5, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Recently out in Las Vegas, a significant industry event took place that ran down the mobile payments industry as a whole, offering a look at what’s going on in the space and giving visitors some insight into what individual firms are doing. Anyway, the folks at Keefe, Bruyette, and Woods (KBW) hit the event themselves and gathered their thoughts on the show into a report sent our way.

The KBW report began with the bottom line, and for those concerned about the fate of mobile payments, the news looks bright. The industry is looking to produce “greater efficiency, digitization, and faster payment speed” for end-users. Though these are considered “longer-term initiatives”, progress on these fronts has already been seen.

The KBW report also noted that industry consolidation was working to make quite clear the impact of size and scale in the market. Core processors are receiving a “tailwind” thanks to the recent growth of merger and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the space, though it’s also posing a challenge thanks to the increasing complexity that such activities often bring with them. 

The digital wallet and peer-to-peer (P2P) operations are also still evolving, as seen by developments right here on this very site. The growth of real-time payments (RTP) adoption is continuing its slow if unremarkable rise upward; KBW gives some credit to FedNow’s debut back in August 2019 for getting banks involved.

All told, the industry is in something of a holding pattern. Gains are clear and present, yet there are also reversals, and the whole thing has kind of balanced out. While there are developments, there’s also some skepticism that these developments will ultimately mean anything to the average user. Mobile payments in the United States has suffered somewhat under the weight of people not particularly caring much. Gains have been made; mobile order-ahead functions in restaurants are huge, and the ability to shop with an app and gain rewards points from that same app is a major development. But people aren’t taking to it the way they have in China, Africa, or certain parts of Europe.

Still, the Money 20/20 show reveals that the mobile payments sector of the United States is hardly dead yet, and ground is being routinely gained, even if slowly.