The NRF Integrated Mobile Initiative, Other Industry Partnerships, Help Guide The Future of Mobile Retailing

J. C. Penney
 and Starbucks are among the countless retailers announcing plans for, or currently moving to, a mobile payment initiative. Advancements in Near Field Communication (NFC) and mobile wallets are moving quickly: Many such developments were spotlighted recently in a Retail TouchPoints feature, and have accelerated even since then.

To keep pace with these advancements, a number of organizations ― including mobile carriers, payment providers and retailers ― are forming partnerships to increase education and acceptance of mobile retailing and payment.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) announced the inception of the Integrated Mobile Initiative (IMI), which was developed to “serve as the single source for information about the challenges and opportunities that exist within mobile retailing,” according to an NRF press release.


“It’s important to have content that’s relevant and meaningful to retailers and their businesses,” Vicki Cantrell, SVP of Communities for NRF and Executive Director of, told Retail TouchPoints. “Today’s retail organizations are working in a more integrated way than ever before. As a result, we want to take down the silos of NRF and create content that gives a holistic viewpoint and approach to mobile.”

Because mobile is having an impact on all facets of retail, including marketing, loss prevention and information technology, the IMI will help drill down on the most relevant mobile research and insights to help organizations navigate the space more efficiently, Cantrell explained. “We understand there are different mobile challenges across all parts of the enterprise, and that retailers today are bombarded with noise,” she said. “They are clamoring to figure out what all this research and information means to them and how to respond to consumer trends.”

The core of the IMI is, which offers users access to original NRF research, infographics, policy information and other resources. Additionally, the NRF will continue to generate educational content and hold events dedicated to mobile.

Moreover, the IMI will provide an efficient way for retailers, solution providers and other industry leaders to connect and discuss advancements in mobile retailing, with a current focus on mobile payment, marketing and other areas of the retail experience, both online and in stores.

“With IMI, we will pay attention to the space and make sure we understand what solutions are being released,” she reported. “As a result, we’ll be able to educate members more effectively to help them understand the newest releases, as well as other tactical insights on any retail policy issues they may affect, such as customer data security.” 

Major Mobile Carriers Connect To Guide The Future Of Mobile Payment
As IMI was unveiled, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon revealed their new partnership ― the Mobile Payment Committee ― launched August 2012 by the Electronic Transactions Association. The ETA is an international trade association representing companies who offer electronic transaction processing products and services. The goal of the committee is “to develop and implement industry-wide solutions to the complex policy and business issues surrounding the emergence of mobile payments in the U.S and globally,” according to an ETA press release.

Contributing organizations will include credit card networks, processors, mobile network operators, developers, financial institutions and device manufacturers. Representatives will participate in ongoing, open dialogue focused on mobile commerce.

Specifically, the Mobile Payment Committee has garnered support from leading mobile payment solution providers, including Google, Intuit, Isis, PayPal and VeriFone. Additionally, American Express, Capital One, Discover, MasterCard and Visa will be active participants, creating a power network and community designed to drive further collaboration among all parties impacted by the emergence of mobile payment.

“There are a lot of different pathways to enable consumers to use mobile payment,” Jason Oxman, CEO of ETA, told VentureBeat in a recent interview. “The idea behind the committee is to get all the players around the table, ask everyone to take off their company hats and put on their industry hats, and talk about what issues need to be resolved.”

Jackie Moran, Executive Director of Federal Relations for Verizon, will act as chair of the committee. “The Mobile Payments Committee is designed to ensure that the early stages of mobile payments are handled in the best possible way,” Moran noted in a press statement,  “with insight and ingenuity from all the players — private as well as public sector — involved in the exciting future of mobile payments.”

Shortly following the NRF and ETA announcements, leading retailers formulated the Merchant Customer Exchange, an organization dedicated to creating a new mobile commerce experience for shoppers, according to a recent Retail TouchPoints article. Participating merchants include: Best Buy Co., Inc.; CVS/pharmacy; Lowe’s; Publix Super Markets, Inc.; Sears Holdings; 7-Eleven, Inc.; Target Corp.; and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

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