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The viability and coming popularity of the burgeoning mobile wallet payment industry has been discussed heavily by experts in a number of fields, but because the number of entrants is expected to be so diverse, it’s likely that no clear winner will emerge any time soon, if at all.

The number of companies now developing or collaborating on mobile wallet technology is large and wide-ranging, according to a report from the Huffington Post. While companies that could have been expected to participate – such as tech firms and credit card payment processors – are currently rolling out or testing their entries into the field, other companies that seem less obvious contributors are also jumping into the game.

These include the nation’s three largest mobile phone service providers, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, as well as major retailers like Walmart, the report said. In addition, both Apple and Microsoft are expected to provide mobile wallet support with their next generation of smartphones, creating their own programs to handle these transactions. Currently, however, the only system actually available to the public is Google Wallet, part of a partnership with Sprint, which also provides the only widely-available smartphone enabled with near-field communications technology.

The problem with predicting the winners and losers in the mobile wallet competition is two-fold, the report said. One issue is that there’s no way to know which direction the technology, and demand for it, will move over the next few years ahead of mobile adoption. And because there’s very little barrier to companies with the will to participate in the developing industry from doing so, it’s also difficult to guess at what types of innovations or entrants might come along.

Therefore, it is very likely that there will be no “winner” to speak of; no dominant force that the vast majority of consumers use for their mobile transactions, and no one way that they use it, the report said. Many companies developing mobile wallet systems are doing so in such a way that their entries will work across multiple platforms.

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Currently, experts say that consumer reluctance to adopt these systems over fear of their security is the largest hurdle for developers to clear. However, it’s believed that by the end of 2015, mobile wallet technology will have gained widespread acceptance.

Image: Horia Varlan, via Flickr

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