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How to launch your mobile wallet?

In our previous article covering our guide to mobile wallets, we provided an overview of the different types of wallets and guidance on which one to pick, as well as the requirements and features of the different wallets. Now, we will have a look at how to implement a mobile wallet, what steps are involved and how much time it will take to go to market.
The answer to these questions depends on the partners you work with, your chosen payment network(s), region and current state of digitisation (e.g., whether you are starting from scratch or expanding your existing wallet capability).

Because of the many moving parts, we will take a generic implementation process from the start to give you an idea. 


The players

Throughout the process, you will work with: 

  • The card issuer, i.e., you
  • The payment network / token service provider (TSP): Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, etc.
  • The mobile wallet operator: Apple, Google, Samsung, Garmin, etc.
  • Your issuer processor
  • Your tokenization partner


Phase 1: Analysis and planning

During this, arguably most challenging and impactful part of the project, you will research the available options, define a budget and production schedule, and make decisions on:

  • what type of mobile wallet you want to implement
  • which card scheme
  • which tokenization partner you want to work with

Where your choice of mobile wallet lands depends on the factors discussed above. When it comes to picking the tokenization partner, there are several options out there. Issuer processors or card schemes can give you some recommendations. Some important questions about your tokenization partners and whether they will fit your business model you should ask are:

Can they connect to the card scheme and the mobile wallet of your choice?

  • What is the pricing structure? Are there setup costs? Is there a lock-in period?
  • How much time will it take to implement the solution?
  • Is the solution easy to implement? Are there turnkey options?
  • Do they offer other necessary or useful services such as push provisioning or digital card functionality? 
  • Is their solution cloud native?

Timeframe: If this is your first wallet, depending on the internal and external processes, this phase, you should factor in up to two months. Adding further wallets or card schemes to your portfolio should take a fraction of the time. 


Phase 2: Development and configuration

The development phase consists of building the mobile wallet environment and collaborating with the card scheme(s) of your choice.

Specifically, you will need card scheme onboarding, if this is your first wallet, and exchange keys with both the payment network and the tokenization partner. The development will focus on the implementation of pre-digitisation and token lifecycle management services. The former is a set of processes needed to convert account credentials into tokens, the latter enables the tokens to be generated, suspended, resumed, and deleted.

If you are launching an issuer wallet, we are assuming that you have your mobile app that will support the wallet functionality already in place.

Timeframe: Ca. two to eight weeks for the backend development, four to six weeks for the onboarding and key exchanges (which should be done simultaneously with development to save time), and two to six weeks for continuous testing of the environment setup and integrations. 


Phase 3: User account testing

At this point, you, the tokenization partner, and the card scheme will be involved in testing the connectivity, functionality, and integration of the tokenization platform, to get ready for the production stage and see whether it will hold up to certification standard.

Timeframe: Most of the testing will take two to eight weeks each but can be done simultaneously. The pre-production testing, which relies on the other moving parts being in place, will lag a bit behind and will add around two to four weeks to this phase.


Phase 4: Production

The production phase involves building the final pilot setup, testing the solution outside the sandbox environment and finally the commercial launch. Once everything including push provisioning and the production pilot are in place, and (for OEM wallets) the specific requirements from the OEM wallet’s side are met, a third-party lab will test and certify the solution. After this final milestone, the wallet will be ready to launch.

Timeframe: Around eight weeks.


What’s next?

We hope this series of articles was helpful to you! If you would like the complete guide to mobile wallets with some more detailed information, you can download it for free here


FAQ: How to Launch Your Mobile Wallet

What are the key phases in launching a mobile wallet?
Launching a mobile wallet involves four key phases:
- Analysis and Planning
- Development and Configuration
- User Account Testing
- Production

What factors influence the time it takes to launch a mobile wallet?
The time required depends on partners, chosen payment networks, region, and current digitization state. Starting from scratch or expanding existing capabilities will affect the timeline.

Who are the key players involved in the mobile wallet implementation process?
Key players include:
- The card issuer (you)
- Payment network/token service provider (Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, etc.)
- Mobile wallet operator (Apple, Google, Samsung, Garmin, etc.)
- Issuer processor
- Tokenization partner

What happens during the Analysis and Planning phase?
In this phase, you research options, define a budget and schedule, and make decisions on the type of mobile wallet, card scheme, and tokenization partner. This phase can take up to two months.

What activities are involved in the Development and Configuration phase?
This phase involves building the mobile wallet environment, onboarding card schemes, exchanging keys, and implementing pre-digitization and token lifecycle management services. The development phase can take between two to eight weeks, with onboarding and testing taking an additional four to six weeks.

What is the focus of the User Account Testing phase?
This phase involves testing the connectivity, functionality, and integration of the tokenization platform to ensure readiness for production. Testing can take two to eight weeks, with pre-production testing adding another two to four weeks.

What happens during the Production phase?
In this phase, the final pilot setup is built, the solution is tested outside the sandbox environment, and the commercial launch is prepared. A third-party lab will test and certify the solution before launch. This phase typically takes around eight weeks.

How can I choose the right tokenization partner for my mobile wallet?
When choosing a tokenization partner, consider their ability to connect to your chosen card scheme and mobile wallet, their pricing structure, implementation time, ease of integration, and additional services like push provisioning and digital card functionality.

What are the potential challenges during the mobile wallet launch process?
Potential challenges include coordinating between multiple partners, ensuring compliance with card scheme and wallet operator requirements, managing the integration and testing phases, and meeting certification standards.

How can I ensure a smooth transition from development to production?
To ensure a smooth transition, synchronize development with onboarding and key exchanges, perform thorough testing in the user account testing phase, and meet all specific requirements from OEM wallets. Additionally, engage a third-party lab for final testing and certification before the commercial launch.

How do I handle updates and maintenance after launching the mobile wallet?
After launching, establish a process for regular updates and maintenance, including monitoring performance, addressing any issues promptly, and keeping up with regulatory changes and advancements in mobile wallet technology. Collaborate with your tokenization partner and other stakeholders to ensure ongoing support and improvements.