Unless You’re Cash, You Can’t Fight Change

Welcome to What’s Trending In Payments – a weekly look at the most popular, irreverent and important stories the payments industry had to offer over the past five days as judged by social media. Which companies grabbed the most headlines – for better or for worse – this week, and which topics have the industry abuzz with intrigue, laughter or disbelief? Featuring breakdowns from the staff and commentary by Karen Webster, here’s our take on what all of you payments peeps thought.

TOPIC ONE: Cash And Innovation: Friend Or Foe?

Why It’s Hot

We love bringing the news to you everyday at, but sometimes its fun to generate the news ourselves. That’s what we did on Monday by publishing a new methodology for measuring how cash is used by consumers, courtesy of our Karen Webster and the folks at Market Platform Dynamics.

Rather than give you the details myself, let’s go straight to the source. Karen?

Karen’s Commentary

How about a shout out for cash!!! Imagine how you would feel if, as the largest and oldest payments network on the planet (credit cards = 60-plus years, cash = 3,000-plus years…it’s not even close), people were always talking about how dirty and useless you were. AND working night and day to kill you off! Geez, it could get pretty discouraging. But, cash is really laughing all the way to the bank (or the ATM as the case may be) since it turns out that it really isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And, judging by the response we’ve gotten to our work, it’s clear that people really do love the underdog! Cash lives!!

Best Story

Well … ours, duh. While you should definitely read the preview of the report and study the slides found here, don’t cheat yourself out of the full technical paper either. Our international readers should be especially intrigued as well, as the study covers 10 countries: France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, UK and the U.S.

Top Tweet

@marcwinitz: Cash is dying (not) – great preso: from @pymnts #mobile #payments is allowed this one little humblebrag, no?

TOPIC TWO: Starbucks Steams mWallet Competitors

Why It’s Hot

We all know that mobile wallet adoption has yet to truly take off, and we all know that Starbucks, through its own app and early partnership with Square, is a leader among merchants when it comes to mPayments.

But a new study this week revealed that the Seattle-based coffee giant actually accounted for the “vast majority” of the $500 million spent via mWallet in 2012. Given how hard Google, Isis and others are working on making mWallets mainstream, it’s a finding that is worth repeating.

Also, is it just me, or is there one temperature-related pun in this column a week?

Karen’s Commentary

Well, I am glad that this study measured “in store” mWallet transactions, since I think there would have been another magnitude 8.5 earthquake in CA with its epicenter near San Jose. But, is anyone really surprised by these findings? Let’s see. Starbucks mobile wallet: cloud-based, bar code-enabled, bundled popular gift card and loyalty program into mobile app and solved a problem for consumers, works on all smartphones, can be used at all SBX locations. BIG SUCCESS. Google/ISIS mobile wallet: NFC, available at about .001% of merchants, no real consumer problem being solved, works on about .10 of all smartphones. BIG FLOP. It’s almost sad to have to put the comparison in writing. Now, the bigger question to ask is who out there will give SBX a run for its money the next time this study is done? Any friendly wagers out there in PYMNTS-land?

Best Story

It’s probably most appropriate to simply link to the summary of the study itself, which came courtesy of Berg Insights. In addition to revealing Starbucks’ mWallet dominance, the Berg study also took at stab at predicting when the mWallet market will really take off. It pegged 2016-2017 as the timeframe when “mobile wallets approach mass market penetration,” and guessed that active mWallet users will grow to 42 million by 2017.

Top Tweet

@JM_allgrownup: Of the 7.5mm mobile wallet users in the country, 7mm are from Starbucks. WOW! #atlantaaima

If 7 million people have truly been spared the indignity of seeing their name mangled on a Starbucks cup, all of the time and resources poured into mobile wallets is now justified.

TOPIC THREE: France Pooh-Poohs Amazon, The Internet, Modernity

Why It’s Hot

France is mad at the Internet. No, really.

Earlier this week, Culture Minister Aurelie Filippetti accused Amazon of “undercutting traditional rivals and destroying bookshops,” according to the Financial Times.

“Today, everyone has had enough of Amazon, which, by dumping, slashes prices to get a foothold in markets only to raise them once they have a virtual monopoly,” Filippetti said.

In fact, France is so offended that they’re considering levying a 1 percent tax on the sales of devices that can link to the web, including smartphones and tablets.

With such a steep price to pay, one figures it’s only a matter of time before the good people of France stop using the Internet all together.

Karen’s Commentary

Sacrebleu! I hate to have to say this but just having returned from France, I’m not surprised. I think that the continuing fiscal crisis and general crap state of the economy there have made the French a little grouchy, and they’re taking it out on everything and everyone. This is, of course, the same country who’s President is big time tax happy, so it’s not surprising that when the going gets tough, the French government taxes. But admittedly, the story does sound a LOT better when it’s spoken in French, so the Culture Minister has that going for her. But, in a show of support for our ally, I really do think we should gather our old feature phones and send them to the Culture Minister so that she has a stockpile to distribute to the people of France. Otherwise, they might be tempted to get one that connects to the Internet so that they can (gasp) shop online! Vive le France!

Best Story

Our EMEA Editor Chanel Smith tackled this for a PYMNTS Offbeat piece on Thursday, and provided a nice breakdown of some prior incidents where France has taken steps to protect their cultural identity.

The piece also notes that this is just a bit ironic, given that France is largely credited with creating the first proto-Internet, Minitel.

If France is getting this working up about the Internet destroying their culture, I shudder to think what they’d do if they saw Jersey Shore or Dance Moms. The Horror.

Top Tweet

@helpfrance: France accuses Amazon of being a “destroyer” of bookshops in a new war against internet giants via @MailOnline

Amazon: Destroyer Of Bookshops. You have to admit it has a nice ring to it, no? At least it sounds way cooler than Amazon: Purveyor Of Two-Day Shipping, or Amazon: Master Of The Kindle.

I’d also like to point out that @helpfrance is an amazing Twitter handle, and I can’t believe it doesn’t belong to a parody account. The Internet missed a big opportunity there.



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