Apple “denies” and Google “confirms”, but what’s the impact of m-payments for business?

Recent reports from Bloomberg revealed that Google is to start testing a mobile payment service that will encourage shoppers to make proximity payments by simply tapping their handsets against dedicated point-of-sale registers.

Coupled with rumours of Apple’s iPhone 5 not supporting NFC technology and the news that leading UK retailers will be trialling mobile payments this year, the issue of ‘wave and pay’ services has never been more topical. However, businesses will have to keep a close eye on what employees are spending when mobile payments become more commonplace in the expense mix.

The news that Google plans to provide a contactless payment service will build momentum behind the ‘wave and pay’ trend, and with Tesco, Boots, McDonalds and other leading high street retailers trialling the technology it’s likely we’ll see a sudden shift in consumer behaviour when it comes to buying goods and services on the move.

While this is good news for consumers, what will it mean for businesses as they inevitably embrace this new form of payment and the associated complexities when it comes to expense management?

As employees increasingly begin to use mobile phones to pay for everything from taxi fares to stationary supplies, it could be very difficult for organisations to keep track of the payments made and assign costs to the right departments. It is therefore vital that companies update their expense reporting systems and processes now, in anticipation of a rapid rise in disparate mobile payments later this year.

Forward-thinking companies will undoubtedly be taking this opportunity to scrutinise current expense management strategies to see how mobile payments can best be brought into the mix. They’ll also need to think about ways in which they can manage the split between private and business spending.

The key is to find a way of integrating mobile payments onto a single platform alongside other elements of corporate spend. Only then will CFOs benefit from complete visibility of total spend across one platform with a common set of business rules, no matter where costs occur or the method of payment used.

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Robert Kirby has more than 20 years experience in the expense management and payments industry, and has led business operations from three different continents. Prior to co-founding Spendvision in 2001, Robert held senior executive positions with Globeset, where he was initially based in Austin, Texas as VP responsible for B2B transaction services. Later he moved to Australia to become VP and general manager of the APAC and Japan business unit. Prior to Globeset, Robert held senior management positions at Telstra and led the development and implementation of eCommerce and payments products and services. Robert has held a position on the Board of the Australian Payments System Council – a body charged with advising the Australian Treasurer on the efficiency of the Australian payments system. He is also a member of the Commercial Payments International advisory board.