Mobile has arguably been one of the most discussed and anticipated emerging technology trends in payments over the past ten years. Already widespread in many parts of Europe and Asia, mobile payment solutions have been broadly positioned for adoption in developing countries as a prime payment tool for the unbanked for many years. More recently mobile payment companies like M-Pesa have been instrumental in supporting additional infrastructural needs in countries like Kenya, providing its people with greater access to reliable energy and water. As a result, mobile networks are beginning to become the predominant infrastructure onto which other services can be built. For example M-Pesa’s mobile technology and incremental payment plans now enable micro financing plans for Kenyans to purchase clean water stations and solar energy kits that enable them to live off the energy grid.

In developed countries Mobile Payments is increasingly gaining traction and acceptance with consumers as many financial services institutions, retailers and technology companies compete to offer different ways in which to turn your smartphone into a vehicle for payments. Many of the simpler mobile payment solutions offer a mobile app, many of which have a tie-in loyalty program like the highly successful Starbucks app, while companies like LevelUp are using QR (quick response) codes to accept payment without a credit card at the POS.

A mobile wallet is a far more complex offering that typically requires the collaboration of multiple stakeholders in order to accept and facilitate payment on different platforms and networks using multiple products that can be accepted at multiple locations. Consumers are looking for a ubiquitous product that is simple to use, secure and convenient and these solutions require participants of the payments ecosystem to partner and work together on an integrated offering. Google Wallet, in its initial iteration failed to get off the ground and it remains to be seen whether ApplePay’s refusal to accept payment on multiple operating systems will be successful in gaining traction. Meanwhile retailers are attempting to build their own platform to offer a mobile commerce solution through a consortium of retailers known as MCX (Merchant Customer Exchange). P2P payments are also increasing in popularity, particularly with the younger generation as a way to split bills, borrow and lend money. Venmo’s ability to compete with other innovative P2P companies like PayPal (which is now, in many ways, a legacy company) continues to be challenged because of an inability to effectively monetize its product. This is a challenge that is frequently faced by many industry disruptors, particularly when the public become accustomed to receiving a service at little or no financial cost.

Disruption is occurring both inside and outside of core payments and Uber is an interesting and powerful example of a start-up that has created a significant impact on a legacy business. Positioning itself as a technology company as opposed to a taxi business has been a contentious distinction, as it has enabled Uber to operate outside of the industry’s regulatory and governance models. AirBnB is another example of a start-up that is operating outside of traditional hotel and hospitality industry standards and controls, as its P2P business model places more accountability for service, security and risk mitigation into the hands of the individual home owner who provides the service directly to the customer.

Disruption inevitably creates change, and organizations are increasingly re-examining the talent in place and recognizing the need to create new capabilities and new positions that will allow for the necessary evolution of their business to support today’s tech savvy consumer. The increased creation of new roles, such as Head of Mobile, Chief Digital Officer and Chief Data Scientist, is evidence of the re-evaluation of talent that is taking place within large corporations and illustrates a skill set gap that must be filled in order to compete in the mobile and digital era.

The demand for identifying the talent to support this rapidly growing mobile market is intensifying. Executives with strong technical and product engineering backgrounds remain in high demand as well as seasoned strategic and tactical business operators. Most importantly of all however, is the ability to manage change in environments that are increasingly volatile, ambiguous and unstable and it is frequently this skill set that is often the hardest to find and assess.

EMA Partners practitioners pride themselves on staying abreast of new emerging payment trends and concepts and as a result are ahead of the curve when it comes to identifying talent gaps within our client base. We ensure that our candidate database remains current and accurate and that we retain strong and positive relationships with our candidate pool.