FTC should address mobile payments with care, says NRF
The National Retail Federation has suggested the Federal Trade Commission tread with care in regards to the still-nascent mobile payment technology solutions. The payment method has only just begun to gain traction and any regulations could stymie further growth of the technology, the retail organization cautions.
Mallory Duncan, NRF senior vice president and general counsel, will be participating in an FTC workshop to further stress this point. She says the FTC shouldn't look at the phone as something to regulate because it acts as a means to make a payment by linking to bank accounts or credit cards, not as a payment medium in and of itself.
"Mobile technology and processes are just beginning to emerge and we won't know which practices the public will like or what methods will provide new benefits until the technology begins to coalesce," Duncan explained. "The government should not impose regulations that would forestall yet-to-be-imagined advances and innovation in order to avoid potential 'harm' based largely on speculation."
Duncan was also quick to note that new technology tends to catch the eye of politicians simply because it has unknown potential. The internet, for example, may have been targeted with stricter regulations if it had come to power in modern days. Public opinion can change, especially as consumers familiarize themselves with new technology, so regulations created ahead of time may in fact not be in the best interest of shoppers.
There are some core issues that need to be addressed as mobile devices become more common as payment tools. For example, Duncan asserts some standard should be set as to precisely what a "mobile payment" constitutes.
Ultimately, she believes mobile payment technology will improve the relationship between retail merchants and consumers, and as such should be allowed to grow.
"Retailers have always wanted to know their customers so they can serve them better and that doesn’t change simply because the method of payment changes," Duncan said. "Mobile might help retailers get to know their customers more like they knew their customers generations ago, and offer more personalized service."
A recent forecast from the Pew Research Center notes that mobile payments are slowly gaining traction in the United States, with the medium expected to be on par with credit cards and cash by 2020.