Karen Webster

PYMNTS Prophecies: Eight 2013 Predictions Reviewed

Despite the rise of big data, the cloud and the countless other electronic innovations looking to tap into our collective brainpower, predictions remained as difficult to get right as ever in 2013.

For every no-brainer like the rise of consumer mobile smartphone and tablet use, there were equally surprising curveballs that confounded the experts like the rapid rise of virtual currency from the fringe of the blogosphere to headline mainstay.

So, as we head into 2014, we’re taking a moment to look back at predictions made at the start of 2013 as listed in “PYMNTS Prochecies: Our Take On Eight 2013 Predictions.” We’re tackling the same topics and predictions once again, this time with the benefit of a little hindsight, weighing in on how well the industry predicted developments in mobile, eCommerce, security and more to reveal who got it right and who didn’t get it.

So, when all the dust settled whose predictions rang true, and who would rather wipe their false prophecies from the record books? Read on to see our final verdicts.

1) No NFC In 2013
Verdict: True

PayPal president David Marcus offered his predictions for 2014 in a recent blog post, and if you’re wondering whether you should heed his advice, a look back at his forecast from 2013 suggests so.

Last year, Marcus predicted that near-field communication (NFC) technology would continue to flounder, and it did just that, with researchers cutting NFC forecasts dramatically. Elsewhere in the NFC industry, Capital One withdrew from the Isis pilot while Google repositioned its mobile wallet solution to succeed without contactless.

But, to be fair, Marcus may have benefitted from insider information. NFC’s biggest challenge came at the hands of PayPal and its new beacon solution. Analyzing his statements now, it’s safe to say Marcus may have known this NFC killer was on the way, as he foreshadowed the increasing importance of social check-ins, a key feature that will power beacons as they take a bigger role in commerce in 2014.

2) Apple Stock Will Soar
Verdict: Still Out

After a rocky summer that had many skeptics questioning the Cupertino company and CEO Tim Cook, Apple recovered in early December, once again passing the $700 per share mark in stock market trading. And while the company’s stock did finish the year above its starting point of $513 on the back of strong Black Friday spending, it hardly soared to the consistent $800-mark some predicted.

Signs indicate Apple could grow more valuable in 2014, however. With the addition of Burberry CEO and retail wunderkind Angela Ahrendts, its emphasis on Asia and the full-scale launch of its iBeacon technology for merchants, the company could be on its way to riding the ongoing retail revolution to a strong 2014.

However, Tim Cook has indicated he plans to deviate from the company’s more recent steady combination of iPods, iPads and iPhones, meaning this gambit could just as easily send the company’s stock south should new products fail to find favor with consumers.

3) Dodd-Frank Reforms Will Work
Verdict: False

This prediction is one of the biggest head-scratchers on the list in retrospect, though it’s doubtful that commentators could have foreseen the biggest curveballs of them all, the Fed’s rejection of the law’s Durbin Amendment in July and the finding that the regulation cost consumers billions. These verdicts sent the payments world into a tailspin of which its only just beginning to recover as it looks to move forward.

The result can be best described as a “cloud of uncertainty” that some experts predict could last until into the next decade.

4) Mobile Wallets Will Be All Hype
Verdict: True

To be fair, not every expert agreed that mobile wallets would bite the dust in 2013 – Inc.com fell for the promise predicting in its analysis that “plastic would become passe.” This prediction fell flat as consumers continued to gravitate in mass toward card purchases, while top mobile wallet initiatives like Isis failed to gain fraction.

5) Curated Commerce Will Continue To Evolve
Verdict: Still Out

Market Platform Dynamics CEO Karen Webster said it best when she indicated that she agreed with this statement – to a point. While big names like Zulily and The Fancy did grab headlines, much of the attention went to what Forbes correctly predicted as the rise in “integrated commerce,” or what we now call omni- or multi-channel.

With omnichannel making retailers constantly accessible, it’s probable that consumers will soon be empowered to curate their own selections with a greater ease, meaning these companies will have to continue to evolve in 2014 to compete.

6) Identity Security Will Be A Big Issue
Verdict: Still Out

Webster also correctly called bluff here, noting in January that “history tells us more likely this concern is overblown.” While consumers did continue to indicate that security was one of the biggest obstacles to their use of mobile payments, in some respects consumers became more willing to part with sensitive data most notably in the form of biometrics.

It is possible, however, that security could actually end up spurring the transition to mobile in 2014, especially in light of recent news events like the massive Target data breach that brought the year to a close.

7) Prepaid’s Popularity Is Here To Stay
Verdict: True

Webster was bearish on this trend, noting that experts have developed the tendency to offer up this insight every year, even when prepaid use yet again fails to reach its potential. However, even if there wasn’t a surge in prepaid use, the Federal Reserve at least found in December that prepaid noncash payments are on the rise in the U.S. and that they have been steadily increasing since 2003.

Prepaid’s biggest advance may have been its validation as a must-have offering at payments providers. In particular, PayPal made the most news in the prepaid sector, announcing this November that it would accept gift cards at its checkout through a partnership with Blackhawk and open up a digital gift card store this December.

8) EMV Won’t Make It To The U.S.
Verdict: Still Out

Offered up by Webster as the eighth addition to our January piece, the CEO was ahead of the curb in pronouncing that EMV dead on arrival in the U.S., though far from the only expert who would offer a similar prediction by the year’s end.

“It is hard to imagine the U.S., on a wholesale basis, spending tens of billions of dollars to implement an “old” technology,” Webster wrote.

It was only a matter of time before other experts got on board the bandwagon, and while our verdict is still out, EMV’s high cost as well as its proven ineffectiveness at stemming fraud in digital channels all but means the writing is on the wall.

How do you think the experts did? Share your thoughts below:


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