By Randy Smith,
Mobile Wallet Media
December 31, 2013
About Mobile Wallet Media
Mobile Wallet Media is a news media, analyst, marketing and consulting firm focused on the future of mobile: payments, marketing, loyalty commerce, security, prepaid, virtual currency, daily deals and the convergence of them all with social and local. The Chief Editor, Randy Smith, was the primary founder, inventor and former CEO of MobilePayUSA, a TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Alley Winner.
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Regarding Bitcoin, it looks like my prognostications have thus far come true as prices skyrocketed in Nov/Dec and then came crashing back down. I'm sure they'll go higher and drop further down, maybe 90 - 99% of what they are now. I could be wrong they could follow the path of PayPal, but odds are long they would make it without partnering with the payment networks as did PayPal with Discover. Bitcoin is not a company, but more of an open source type movement. But even as adoption and credibility of Bitcoins are gaining ground, so are breaches and black market activity. The only way it seems that Bitcoins are going to go mainstream is if they are adopted by major retailers. But will this not draw scrutiny of regulators and envy of incumbent networks as they lose transaction volume? The same may be said of any virtual currency outside the control of the bankcard payment networks as they would lose interchange and interest revenues. The reality is that Bitcoin is clearly a speculative and risky investment as is and is also not proven as a safe or scalable method to store funds or process transactions. If Bitcoins ever begin to take off it appears they'll be regulated until they conform and then they'll have to charge more to make up for smaller volume of transactions. In the end the rapid rise in the value of the currency cannot fund it's growth into mainstream and they'll need funding to expand brands and pay workers. It's still quite an uphill battle for Bitcoin.

So what about all this political stuff tied to commerce? Always has, always will be. It's all the same game just a different arena. Be it politicians or corporate executives blowing hot air to puff up their position or product so it may fly high and thus most all of us will say "Now isn't that a pretty site."

We are drawn into the facade of the multitude of hot air balloons as representing the reality that the balloons represent the best innovation possible. But this could not be further from the truth, for many balloons never fly and thus are never seen, heard or funded even though they may have the very solutions an industry or nation is seeking to solve it's big problems. The balloons we see are more often than not flying solely because they have brand power and are backed by big money.

This is all done on a daily basis through media coverage of mainly just hot air balloons. But in the end hot air balloons do little more than fly high. They do not often serve any relevant or competitive function other than holding a big space in the blue sky of an industry or office. They are sullied upon as though they are all that (sometimes they are), but they really are just there to hold their place of power. I wrote in depth about this topic last May.

And why did I include Main Street in as joining in the dysfunction? Because as long they continue to accept the dysfunction and corruption they enable it. This may be said of any of us about any activity that displays prejudice against innovation for no sound or good reason. Maybe MCX will ignite some change here?

In the end, leaders that embrace social commerce and corporate altruism in sharing revenues with all workers that helped earn them or those in poverty or pain, not just hoarding for shareholders and top executives, will lead the capstone of paradigm in all commerce. This will lead to enhanced customer loyalty, revenues and bottom line. I've written in detail about all this last Spring and in 2012. If they don't then facist corporatism, irrationality and greed will win out. I'm rooting for the prior.

Is it not time we move out of such ambivalent and oblivious positions of perspective. In 2014, please let's put the bull aside and embrace innovation regardless of the source. If we do, we may actually move to solve card fraud and put to shame all the pomp and hype. If your company, your media or investment firm does this, you may find yourself backing those very few exceptions to the rules spelled out above and disrupt or have great impact upon not just an industry but perhaps every industry and every office.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, Apple, Amazon, PayPal and once upon a time Microsoft, HP, Intuit and Amex all were just small startups with little funding and big, bold, universal ideas that could bring paradigm shift and they did. And so despite my pessimistic perspective, I still believe it is possible for industry altering and even culture changing innovation to be brought to full maturity by small startups with humble beginnings. Instagram in 18-months soared to 30 million users, with just a team of 13 when acquired for 1 billion by Facebook. Snapchat recently declined a 3 billion dollar acquisition offer from Facebook and just recently reached 30 million users in 18 months. Kind of looks like they should have taken the deal.

So why all the talk about social media networks? They are an ever increasing and dominant gateway of reach and influence for marketers and the media. If Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were retooled to deliver payments like PayPal or Google, then whose to stop them if they serve first and foremost merchants and consumers with transparency, protection of privacy and data and incorporate real altruism. I'm not saying they need to build their own infrastructure, they simply need to partner with the biggest players. But who's to say Facebook, Twitter, Amazon or Apple won't enter payments race? So the mobile/digital payments and transaction security game is still up for grabs. The only question is which team will execute the best innovation through the best innovators?

Five years ago Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were not yet dominant and Apple had just introduced the iphone. They all changed the way we communicate and market. In the next 2-3 years the landscape will be redefined again. Do you know what it will look like? If you don't have a good idea (assuming the world does not implode via war or worldwide mass economic collapse, etc.) you are at a deficit. I'm not saying I do, but there are those that really do have a pretty solid idea. How can I venture to say such? Past visionaries and innovators have been right about their ideas many years in advance of their coming into being. The future is created by those that envision unmet needs, forge solutions, develop them and then show and tell the world. Bold is never old and may eventually be converted to gold.

Happy New Year! Stay tuned for some exciting news in 2014!