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The app-pitching event underscores the excitement about emerging opportunities in mobile payment, although it is an unlikely forum for discovering a breakthrough application that will achieve widespread adoption, one analyst suggests.

“This looks like a unique way for one company to generate ideas through crowd-sourcing and to build interest in mobile applications in general,” Todd Ablowitz, president of Centennial, Colo.-based Double Diamond Group LLC, tells PaymentsSource.

The brass ring for many amateurs dabbling in mobile payments would be to develop an application that combines mobile banking with payments and advertising or rewards that would catch on widely among consumers, Ablowitz speculates.

But the odds of succeeding that way are small, he believes.

“We’re seeing an explosion of innovation in payments similar to what happened in the early days of the Internet, when all kinds of people developed prototypes of Web browsers and search engines, but only a few survived,” Ablowitz says.

Smartphone-based mobile-payment applications are certainly proliferating, “but the shakeout between apps and survivors will take years, and the winners are probably going to be big players and those that already have a big head start and existing reach to consumers,” he says.

It will be “10 years at minimum” before the average consumer can conduct all routine transactions via a smartphone, Ablowitz predicts.

“Ultimately, I think mobile payment will be much bigger than anyone realizes, but it’s going to take much longer than anyone realizes to become an everyday reality,” he says.

Payments Source, August 24, 2011