Mobile Payments Are About to Become Standardized. Really Good or Really Terrible?

Mobile payments are a mess. Mostly because every single carrier is trying to set up its own payment platform and squeeze everyone else out. The Electronic Transactions Association has announced the Mobile Payments Committee, which should put some order to the chaos.

The committee will have representatives from each of the four major US carriers, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, and it will be chaired by Jackie Moran of Verizon. It will try to get everyone to stop being gigantic jerks about mobile payment platforms, and actually create a sensible marketplace. So for example, things like Verizon freezing out Google Wallet until recently.

But this isn't just a conversation to decide what format will succeed long term. Say, Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD. This is a group that will decide how entire ecosystems are allowed to process payments. And the carriers seemingly occupy the pole positions in committee that decides who gets to play the game, and how it's played. It does include other mobile payment participants like Google and PayPal—though it's missing Square, which is now an even humongouser figure in mobile payments thanks to being in every Starbucks. So a lot of the non-carrier muscle is sitting this one out, for now. Hopefully that doesn't mean locked-down, carrier-centric systems. [Venture Beat]