As smartphones continue to replicate or replace other daily means and devices, it’s only natural that the base technology will expand even further into individual users’ routines. The big news of the moment is the collaboration between Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile to bring consumer payment services to mobile phones. Dubbed “Isis,” the project will have the three companies integrate near-field technology and piggyback on Discover’s financial network – thus crossing swords with the other major credit card companies.
We all love convenience, and one less piece of plastic in our wallets is great and all, except… what does this mean for digital privacy in the new pay-to-play age? And, what are the members of Isis doing to communicate their expectations and positions on this very topic?
Even if we’re wowed by the ability to pay for goodies with our phones, Congress will likely want to learn more at a looming lame-duck hearing on technology and telecommunications privacy issues. Here are questions that will probably be asked at that hearing:
• What security measures are in place to protect consumer credit information? (The flip-side of this coin is that the credit card companies have decades of experience and knowledge on this front. If they wanted, they could easily run a PR campaign to show how far ahead they are and counter the Isis business objectives.)
• What will the default settings be on phones for consumers, will they have to opt-out of the service?
• Will phone companies now make such a payment service a mandatory part of all phone service plans? In other words, will the payment service be bundled with all cell phone plans?
• How will payment information and customer profiles, purchases, etc. be shared? Will that information be sold to marketers and retailers for use in targeted advertising?
This is just the tip of the iceberg – the policy implications are dizzying, as is the future of electronic consumer transactions. When so much is on the line, it behooves the corporate players to be very transparent and smart in their communications and media efforts.