The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, is urging the Federal Trade Commission to move cautiously in establishing regulations for mobile payments.
“Mobile technology and processes are just beginning to emerge and we won’t know which practices the public will like or what methods will provide new benefits until the technology begins to coalesce,” explained Mallory Duncan, senior vice president at the NRF. “The government should not impose regulations that would forestall yet-to-be-imagined advances and innovation in order to avoid potential harm based largely on speculation.”
According to the NRF, any rules that the FTC adopts should parallel those for the underlying form of payment and not be specific to the technology.
“Some of the best innovations on the Internet today might have been suspect a generation ago but today they are benefits few consumers would want to live without,” Duncan added. “The public very often embraces change as the future becomes now.”
Duncan went on to assert that federal officials need to address a number of issues including a definition of what constitutes mobile payments. While the term is largely used to mean a payment made in a brick-and-mortar store using a smart phone, officials need to decide whether a payment made for an online purchase on the same device constitutes a mobile payment, or if payments made on a portable device like an iPad tablet or a laptop computer are mobile.
According to Duncan, a phone itself is “just a device, not a payment” and that actual payment could take place via a credit or debit card, directly from a bank account, be processed through the user’s phone bill, or be made through other means. Any privacy rules developed for mobile payments should be no more restrictive than those for the underlying form of payment.
Duncan is scheduled to participate in an FTC workshop on mobile payments today called “Paper, Plastic… or Mobile?” as part of a panel discussion on privacy issues.