Disrupting Mobile Payments

Updated: Apr 10, 2019


Here are a few thoughts on how the notions of mobile applications are changing. The initial launch of mobile applications was directed at the handheld devices and the human interface design was primarily focused on the visual interface (presentation layer). With the addition of new sensory technologies and faster processors, the UI has morphed into UX. Now designers are focused on creating an experience (sound, touch, visual 2D and 3D). Work is already underway to support smell (electronic olfaction on a chip). So, now it’s a question of how best to blend all of these interface options to support the right user experience.


With wearable technology springing up in all manner of clothing and accessories, the visual interaction combined with the touchpad / keyboard is quickly becoming obsolete. The UX is now tuned to the device, clothing, accessory, but the services that support the UX must become increasingly adaptable to one or more of these UXs to support a complete and seamless experience for the customer. The unbundling of functionality is a natural evolution of traditional systems so they can support these complex adaptive behaviors. The unbundling of function points (encapsulated as services) creates whole new opportunities for innovation and disruption of traditional bundled platforms. This will require systems designers to rethink granularity and reuse for the intended function points within a given domain, and beyond. As Google and Facebook have demonstrated, the unintended consequences from the unbundling can lead to greater opportunities then was originally thought possible.


Today, services are designed with hardened boundaries and hard-wired behaviors (via contracts). However, these artificial constraints will limit scale and opportunity for these services. Assuming these constraints can be relaxed via more flexible rules and metadata, it will be interesting to watch the evolution of these unbundled services. I can imagine more adaptable services combined with machine learning as these services become more “aware” of each other as the next extension of unintended consequences. Complex adaptive behaviors are already being demonstrated in research and defense applications. It’s not clear how, when, and where these unbundled services will begin to self-orchestrate in order to adapt to new sets of capabilities in the private sector. Our notion of control, security, and risk will need to be rethought once these boundaries become more fluid.

As these services become more “adaptable”, it is likely that they will need to interact in new and unexpected ways. For example, imagine a woman wearing a dress that has a digital identity and can detect if it is torn. If the dress can contact the woman’s cell phone and notify it that it needs to be replaced, the cell phone can use it’s GPS services (another unbundled set of capabilities) to check the balance in the woman’s checking account via Moven’s services. Assuming Moven approves the purchase of a new dress, Moven may want to direct the woman to the nearest store that might have her size in a similar dress (perhaps using Amazon’s services) and guide her to a sale (since she has a profile that suggests she only buys clothing on sale). This can be taken further of course, since the store may be able to recognize this woman’s loyalty to the store and offer her an additional discount.


The scenario can extend in many ways and across numerous domains. Just imagine how this could augment healthcare. In order to support this explosion of interactions, the financial institutions will need to redesign their services to provide a more collaborative capability (e.g. why should a customer be limited to their bank account when there are so many financial instruments that can leveraged to support the customer. Further, the integration services and clearing houses associated with banks will also have to change to support these new market realities. The concept of a transaction and how it should be secured is already being disrupted by the onslaught of virtual currencies (bitcoin, litcoin, darkcoin, and more…). Identity and access management (IAM) needs to be re-imagined as more of these services, devices, wearables, and intermediary payment stream providers become woven into together as planned and unplanned activities. These are just a few of the possibilities, opportunities, and challenges.

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