The OpenWallet Foundation (OWF) will soon be formed to create an open standard for digital wallets that contain everything from credit cards to driver’s licenses.
Announced this week at the Open Source Summit Europe conference, the OWF is an arm of the Linux Foundation that will promote the adoption of interoperability standards across multiple implementations of digital wallets, says Daniel Goldscheider, CEO of yes.com, an open network for accessing financial services, who is also the founder of OWF.
The goal is not to build a digital wallet but rather to encourage more competition across a software category that is crucial to advancing digital business transformation initiatives, he adds.
The most widely used digital wallets today are provided by Apple and Google. Apple charges companies a fee for using its digital wallet to initiate transactions. Google, conversely, requires organizations to share data that is then used to better target content and advertising.
There may come a day, however, when the proliferation of digital wallets based on open standards would not require organizations to pay a fee or share data, noted Goldscheider.
It’s not clear whether Apple or Google will join the OWF, but Goldscheider noted OWF is committed to creating open digital wallet interoperability specifications that can be used around the world.
Digital wallets have emerged as critical infrastructure for what is rapidly becoming a digital society, noted Goldscheider. As such, it’s critical to develop specifications that will enable digital wallets to work securely anywhere in the world, he added. “It’s still early innings in the game,” he says.
TradingPlatforms, a provider of a platform used by stockbrokers, earlier this month published a report that Apple Pay has already surpassed Mastercard as the payment system with an annual transaction rate of more than $6 trillion. At that rate of growth, it will only be a matter of time before Apple Pay surpasses Visa, the report noted.
Organizations, of course, have been paying fees to process transactions for years but the OWF is making a case for an approach that should foster more competition across providers of these services. It’s not clear how long it might take the OWF to achieve that goal, but like most open source initiatives the expectation is the collaborative efforts of many contributors will eventually overwhelm the research and development capabilities of any single company.
The Linux Foundation is encouraging organizations to set up their own open source program offices to not only track and manage how they consume open source software but also contribute to various projects. Those contributions can not only come in the form of code, but also can provide material and financial support for maintainers of those projects. At present, there is an imbalance between the number of organizations that benefit from open source software and those that proactively make contributions.
Open source software, of course, is already widely used across digital business transformation initiatives. The challenge and the opportunity now is determining when to reuse existing open source software versus writing custom code that provides a sustainable competitive advantage.