Virtual Reality Could Be the Future of Mobile Payments

By Scott Gamm for The Street

Apple, Alphabet’s, Google and Samsung  are duking it out for a slice of the highly lucrative mobile payments space. U.S. mobile payments totaled $8.71 billion in 2015 and spending is expected to rise to $27.05 billion in 2016, according to data from eMarketer.

“Apple Pay is one that’s very prominent and everybody hears about it, followed by Android and Samsung,” said Guy Harris, president of Elavon North America, a payment provider and subsidiary of U.S. Bank. “Over a period of time, your wallet will get replaced with your phone. How quickly that’s going to take place is the interesting question that the industry is having to address.”

Harris said the mobile payment platforms from Apple, Google and Samsung are not as mainstream as the headlines suggest. “They are, in terms of visibility and awareness,” he said, adding that the challenge is getting people to actually use the service.

“Everybody knows how to use a credit card and a debit card,” Harris said. The industry needs to be able “to get everyone to think that they can pull their phone out and pay for something consistently, wherever they are.”

Aside from mobile platforms, the payments space could soon merge with virtual reality. “Theoretically, using the virtual reality technology you can shop and actually pay” for items, he said. “In the future, it may well become mainstream, but at the moment, it’s not – it’s one of the investment areas that all technology companies are looking at.”

Samsung and Facebook are major players in the virtual reality space.

“Facebook has certain areas where they are encouraging people to buy things from them,” Harris said. “But when you talk about payments, there’s an ecosystem that sits beneath payments that’s quite complicated, which the likes of Facebook, Apple and the social media organizations including Twitter are really only interested to allowing customers to buy things as opposed to processing payments.”

Apple, Facebook, Alphabet and Twitter are holdings of Jim Cramer’s charitable trust, Action Alerts PLUS

First appeared at the Street