As CTIA 2012 kicked off in New Orleans today, the tech media and analysts were on the lookout for latest in mobile payment technology.
"Credit card companies are poised to make their pitch in the mobile payments space, an arena where startups like Square and Silicon Valley tech companies like Intuit and eBay's PayPal have been dictating much of the conversation," wrote CNBC's Jon Fortt yesterday.
Fortt alluded to something we'd been blogging about for some time: The mobile payments space is a crowded with all kinds of players -- credit card companies, banking institutions, OEMs, carriers, e-tailers, app makers and third-party payment processors like Square, Intuit and PayPal -- but the "driving force behind many of the relationships and rivalries (is) LTE.
"That's the shorthand for Long-term Evolution, the 4G wireless standard that is poised to be a game changer in 2012."
In the smartphone-digital-wallet arena specifically, Fortt reports that MasterCard and Visa are looking to make a good impression at CTIA 2012. A top exec from each company has signed on to deliver a keynote session.
MasterCard to Open PayPass API to New Partners
Roger Cheng of CNET reported from CTIA that MasterCard is "vowing to be open," allowing anybody to sign up for a PayPass account to store their credit cards online, and distributing developer tools to allow other mobile wallets (even from rival companies) to work with its network.
Don't forget that MasterCard's has already partnered with Google on the whole Google Wallet rollout, primarily because of its established network of physical PayPass terminals around the world.
"But MasterCard's own digital wallet could eventually compete with Google Wallet, particularly if the company takes the next step and moves into smartphone payments through its own app or partnership with a handset vendor," Cheng wrote.
It appears that MasterCard -- along with all the other players in this nascent mobile payments space -- is hedging its bets.
VeriFone and Square Are Duking It Out
Jon Fingas of Engadget reported today that VeriFone (which recently claimed rival Square had a "gaping security hole") is releasing Sail: its own card-swipe dongle for iPhone, with an Android and iPad version coming soon.
Meanwhile, Square has moved beyond the dongle accessory and released a mobile payments app called "Pay with Square."
"In my experience, Pay with Square proved to be an easy, enjoyable app to use to purchase things using my smartphone — though it won’t be an everyday app for me until there are more businesses accepting it," she wrote.
Sounds like every mobile wallet/mobile payments experience to date. Like I said, it's a nascent space.