By Cameron French
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian banks and telecom providers are scrambling to introduce smartphone digital "wallets," but the dream of completely abandoning the traditional billfold in favor of a smartphone is likely several years away, according to speakers at an e-commerce conference in Toronto on Tuesday.
Digital wallets will allow consumers to make cash and credit card transactions using their smartphones by swiping the phone past a sensor and then entering a PIN number to complete the payment.
Apple Inc's decision to not embed chips in its new iPhone 5 that would have allowed the phone to communicate with retail payment devices was worrisome to industry players presenting at the conference, but they said it was just one of many barriers to full acceptance of the payments technology.
Apple surprised many by not including the Near Field chips in its latest version of the iPhone. The company said it decided to not include the technology because it was not clear the technology was the proper solution for contactless payments.
Also influencing the adoption of the digital wallet is a slow take-up of payment technology by retailers, questions about which technology will become dominant in the industry, and the time it will take for banks and telecom providers to hammer out the deals necessary for consumers to be able to say goodbye to cash in their pockets.
"Mass adoption will happen when every bank in Canada and every single mobile network operator have an agreement on secure (access)," Derek Colfer, business leader of global mobile product innovation at Visa Canada, said.
"That means every large financial institution, that means every small financial institution."
Canada's financial services landscape is dominated by six large banks, but hundreds of smaller foreign and domestic lenders and credit unions also offer payment products.
The country, however, is considered an ideal test-case for the mobile wallet technology, with high smartphone penetration, a tendency to upgrade those phones frequently, and widespread use of systems such as Interac, a debit payment network owned by a group of Canadian financial institutions.
Allen Wright, vice-president of product and service management at Interac, agreed that "ubiquitous" integration will take time, and said the onus will be on providers to come up with products that will lure customers over to the new technology.
"I think that the notion that the consumer is looking for a different way to pay is a bit of a flawed logic," he said.
Canadian banks have already begun jostling for position in the nascent market.
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is in an "advanced field test" of a digital wallet it is developing with telecom company Rogers Communications, and plans to launch it this year, said Todd Roberts, a senior vice-president of card products at Canada's fifth largest bank.
Bank of Nova Scotia plans to have a platform out next year, the bank's head of emerging payments, Heather MacMillan said. Royal Bank of Canada, which was not represented at the conference, has said it expects to launch a wallet next month.
The conference, called Mobile Money Canada 2012, was organized by mobile financial services consulting firm DonRiver Inc.
(Reporting By Cameron French)
Earlier on HuffPost:
<a href="http://masterbaitonline.com/" target="_hplink">Master Bait and Tackle</a> on Florida's Gulf coast isn't the only bait shop to play on the "master bait"/"masterbate" homophone; <a href="http://www.masterbaitersfishing.com/" target="_hplink">Master Baiter's Sportfishing & Tackle</a> in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico does too. With taglines like "You can't beat our boat!" and "We won't jerk you around," both clearly know what they're going.
Another theme emerges. As with "therapist," we recommend avoiding the word "scrap" in URLs. This one for information technologies company is suppose to read "<a href="Itscrap.com" target="_hplink">IT Scrap.</a>"
This <a href="http://whorepresents.com/" target="_hplink">database of "entertainment industry contacts"</a> sounds like it's involved in an entirely different industry.
The website for the law firm reads, "[i]n other news, it has come to our attention that the domain name '<a href="http://www.ferrethjobs.com/" target="_hplink">FerrethAndJobs.com</a>' may be misread by some." And how. The lawyers have since shortened the name to FerrethJobs.com, but that awkward motto -- "Is your business in the right hands?" -- remains.
You'd think Dickson, which manufactures data recorders for temperature and humidity, would be a bit more web-savvy than to choose such an unfortunate name. Since registering dicksonweb.com, they've cleaned up the double entendre to <a href="http://www.dicksondata.com/" target="_hplink">dicksondata.com</a>.
Maybe this isn't a bad URL. We wager you'd never remember the name of <a href="http://www.penisland.net/" target="_hplink">a pen retailer</a> if it wasn't a double entendre.
This <a href="http://potsofart.com/" target="_hplink">U.K.-based ceramics studio</a> was trying to play on the phrase "lots of arts" with its name.
That last part of this <a href="http://actionpaintballsac.com/home.html" target="_hplink">Paintball excursion site's URL</a> alludes to probably the WORST part of the body you'd ever want shot with a paintball.
Choosing pain is not what most of us usually do on vacation, despite the suggestion of <a href="http://www.choosespain.com/" target="_hplink">this holiday booking site</a>.
Though Siteopia <a href="http://www.siteopia.com/blog/some-funny-some-crazy-and-some-just-plain-wrong-domain-names" target="_hplink">catalogues</a> this site for a California therapist database as an awkward domain name, a search for "<a href="Therapistfinder.com " target="_hplink">Therapistfinder.com</a>" will redirect you to Counselingcalifornia.com. Seems like someone at the company wised up.
Again, we see <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrIpPqcln6Y" target="_hplink">shades of <em>Arrested Development</em>'s Tobias Fünke</a>.
If only apostraphes were allowed in URLs, country cabin spot <a href="Oldmanshaven.com " target="_hplink">Old Man's Haven</a> would have a perfectly acceptable domain name.
As far as connotations go, it's probably not great that <a href="Ladrape.com" target="_hplink">La Drape International Limited</a> in England happens to make bed covers.
Ugh. <a href="Teacherstalking.org " target="_hplink">This site for teachers who'd like to improve their French or Spanish-language skills</a> should really get a new URL.
Admittedly, many <a href="Mp3shits.com" target="_hplink">mp3s you can buy online</a> are kinda crappy.
The <em><a href="Wintersexpress.com" target="_hplink">Winters Express</a></em>, a Winters, Calif.-based newspaper, doesn't have the most URL-friendly name.
Bet you never knew.
Get your mind out of the gutter. Analemma <a href="http://www.thefreedictionary.com/analemma" target="_hplink">means</a> a "graduated scale in the shape of a figure eight, indicating the sun's declination and the equation of time for every day of the year and usually found on sundials and globes." <a href="Analemma.org" target="_hplink">It's a website about science</a>.
<a href="Nobjs.org" target="_hplink">North of Boston Jewish Singles</a>, please choose a different acronym.
<a href="http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/boscage#English" target="_hplink">Boscage</a>, which in both English and French refers to a small forest, doesn't do well with the French article "les" put in front of it <a href="Lesbocages.com" target="_hplink">in a domain name</a>.
Yet more proof that "therapist" is a difficult word to include in a URL.