We’re quickly approaching Google Wallet’s 1 year birthday. Announced on May 26, 2011, Google hasn’t exactly accomplished their goal of replacing the various plastic cards you carry with you on a daily basis. Why? At the end of the day it comes down to politics. Who establishes the relationship with the consumer, who gets to sneak a peak at the data trail they leave behind as they go about their day and buy things, who gets to keep what percentage of each transaction, that sort of bullshit. All the technical aspects have been solid for years. Hell, Japan has had NFC payments since 2004. Anyway, today Google has announced that they’ve purchased a company called TxVia. They handle about 100 million accounts today and specialize in things like “mass-market prepaid cards, general purpose reloadable cards and gift cards.” At least that’s what TechCrunch says. We wanted to look at TxVia’s website to get a better idea of what this company is all about, but they’ve already taken it down.
The bigger question here is the most obvious one: Is Google wallet ever going to take off? Unlike other markets, you don’t mess with financial instituions. There are laws in place that prevent disruptive companies like Google from doing their thing and mucking about. The music industry belongs to Apple, the movie industry belongs to Netflix, the books industry belongs to Amazon, but do you honestly think that Visa or MasterCard are going to give up what they’ve spent decades building to a bunch of rocket scientists working for an advertising company that’s masquerading itself as a search engine? Not in the slightest.
We want mobile payments to take off, not because using credit cards is hard or anything, but because our banks might finally want to do something new and potentially interesting … if such a thing is even possible.