3 April 2012

Congrats to Google and the TXVIA team. Given that Google is a  client of mine I’m not going to comment on anything specific here.. but clearly this deal significantly expands the reach of Google at the POS. No longer will Google Wallet be dependent on a few thousand NFC phones in market.

The primary reason for my post is that a senior retail executive just rang me to tell me they are concerned about Google’s wallet and card strategy. It seems I was incorrect in dismissing the WSJ article on a Retailer Wallet. There is MUCH more structure here than I realized, and it is not just wallet that the retailers are contemplating.. but ownership of a new payment/incentive network. I would laugh if I didn’t want to cry..

  • Banks are working to form “the next Visa” because they don’t trust the one in market today
  • Retailers are forming their own payment network
  • Banks are worried that Google will be the next PayPal, or Visa
  • Retailers are concerned about Google killing their customer relationship
  • Mobile operators what to own payments.. err… that was last week sorry… now they want to own marketing
  • Retailers are refusing to adopt NFC because everything is a card transaction…
  • …etc. I could go on.. but the chaos just continues

Retailers, I admit I am VERY biased toward Google. The issue in market perception is: through Google’s effort to be a neutral platform for consumers, banks, operators, retailers, … they appear friendly to the competition. For example, they have no desire to be a Bank.. or to be a Paypal.. but if Banks don’t allow for efficient payments (consumers and retailers) they must deliver an alternative.  Google wants to “enable” .. which can mean not picking winners.. but letting the marketplace select them (principle example is Card Linked Offers). This approach is embedded in to Google’s culture of billiant engineers running with a  great idea, and letting the market determine if it will work. Apple on the other hand engineers great customer experiences.. In a very, very controlled fashion. How many “partners” has Apple enabled? How many non-Apple businesses benefit from Apple’s platform? How many other brands does Apple support?

Google has no desire to take over retail.. they want to create fantastic consumer shopping experiences. Yes that means Google’s customers are the same as a Retailer’s customers.. and consumers will use a generic andriod shopping app vs. one your IT team built..

The paranoia is just contagious.. billions of dollars are being wasted because few know how to partner…  In Google’s efforts to be “neutral” they appear to be friendly to all. To retailers they are “too bank friendly”, to banks they are “trying to be a payment network”, to consumers “they are tracking everything I do”..

TXVIA will be a major turning point for Google in payments. This new platform will enable them to support their internal marketplaces in new ways, and give retailers new tools to deliver incentives on their brand. In the Google Press Release, they mentioned TXVIA support for 100M cards. Take a guess how many of these cards have a TXVIA brand on them? NONE..  It is a company that provides a platform to support many business models (like Blackhawk). If Google continues this approach they will win big.  Note, if they do develop a “Google Card”.. it may just be a pilot.. they are not taking over the world with their own plastic.

My top market question is: “what will Blackhawk do now that Google owns your card platform”? TXVIA is the best pre-paid software platform in the market.. hands down.