About a dozen retail giants are joining to develop a new mobile payment network that would compete against a similar service that is offered by Google.
Walmart, Target and Sunoco are three of the firms that are trying to make their way into this growing market, where smartphones are able to be used for all kinds of purchases.
This effort by these big merchants is called Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) and it is in its infancy. The companies in the group have not yet set a date for launch or hired a CEO; a search for one is under way now. It also is not clear how much cash each corporation is going to contribute to the development of the network.
However, it is clear that tech firms and financial companies are throwing billions of US dollars into developing mobile payment platforms that can operate as a so-called digital wallet.
At this point, few American shoppers use a phone as a payment device, but many experts think that customers will soon be very comfortable with shopping and buying products with their phones, just as they are now with debit cards.
This growing technology uses applications that consumers can put onto their smartphone by download. Then, they can make purchases by tapping the smartphone against a reader that is at the cash register.
Such mobile payments are expected to explode to $600 billion globally by 2016, up nearly four times from current levels in 2012. Eighty-seven percent of Americans have a cell phone, and almost half of them are smartphones.