Late Sunday The Financial Times ran a story headlined “Google Warns Over Mobile Payments” http://on.ft.com/JaMG1D . The lead paragraph reads “Google and PayPal have sounded the alarm in Brussels over a proposed joint venture between Britain’s biggest mobile phone operators, warning it could choke the fast-developing mobile payments market.” The media will be sure to make a big stink over this apparent aggression.
While I have no doubts that Google or PayPal would say these things about the joint venture in the U.K., it is important to note that at least Google did not offer any comment unsolicited. This is a very important point – Google was asked by the EC to comment, according to the report. In a paragraph halfway through the article, it states that Google “submitted comments after receiving a non-binding Commission request.” The report did not say whether PayPal’s comments were solicited, but I bet you they were.
It’s not in Google, PayPal or any other mobile wallet player’s best interest to attack a carrier JV. For a long list of reasons I won’t bore you with here, I believe that mobile wallets will never become a mass market accepted consumer choice unless mobile operator JVs like Project Oscar are allowed to move forward. Put another way, neither Google nor PayPal will succeed without mobile carrier-branded mobile wallets in the marketplace. I think all mobile wallet options will eventually be made available to consumers, but it won’t be because players were regulated to do so.
Watch for some clarifying statements from Google over the next few days, and don’t expect Google or PayPal to become aggressive objectors to other mobile wallet joint ventures.