21st October 2015
The Mobey Forum held their annual MobeyDay event in Barcelona earlier this month, and I was able to catch up on the latest thinking from industry leaders on the evolution and latest innovation around mobile payments.
Not surprisingly, the underlying theme was that mobile payments is undoubtedly gathering pace at a faster rate than ever before. ApplePay rollout in the USA and the UK, powered by the mighty Apple marketing machine has brought mobile payments to the mainstream. And with further activity from Android Pay, Samsung Pay and maybe even soon GPay (from LG) and Sony Pay (unsurprisingly from Sony), my colleagues at MobeyDay had plenty of reasons to remain optimistic.
Nevertheless, there was a recognition that consumers will need more compelling reasons to make the switch from plastic to mobile that go well beyond the basic payments experience. Tapping with your phone instead of your bank card is simply a change in form factor – strip away the geekiness factor and it’s really the same thing and I would contend is hardly a revolution.
To create a quantum shift towards mobile payments we need to provide many more benefits and value added services seems to be a vehicle that could generate a push towards mass adoption for mobile commerce. I presented at MobeyDay on this very subject. I looked at how the majority of smartphones already have an excellent capability to engage with consumers with NFC (a ‘pull’ technology) and Bluetooth Low Energy, BLE, (a ‘push’ technology) now incorporated as standard. Increased usage of such devices around the payment experience can and will open the way for a much richer mobile commerce experience. Proxama have already done a lot in this space and continue to pioneer beacon marketing, particularly in the UK, helping brands and retailers to reach consumers in ways that weren’t possible previously.
The reality is that a commerce experience begins much earlier than at the checkout – it may begin at home, on the bus or walking along the high street. As consumers, we are often spoiled for choice as to where we will buy our goods and services, and this opens up many more opportunities for retailers and brands to influence shoppers to choose a particular retail store (or a particular brand) over another. Using these now established technologies with beacons (BLE) and smart tags or posters (NFC), card issuers and retailers can engage consumers all the way along that commerce journey, offering a wide range of content, information, special offers, and even ‘thank you’ messages and follow-up incentives following a store visit.
Imagine you see an advert at a bus stop promoting the download of an app with a 10% off coupon for use in-store. You tap your phone using NFC to download and store the offer on your phone in a ‘wallet’. Several days later you walk past the same retail store and a BLE beacon at the entrance will automatically activate the wallet and display a message on your smartphone reminding you to use your coupon – which by then you have most likely forgotten about! You then walk into store to purchase the goods, perhaps further interacting via NFC to pull detailed product information or receive further offers, and at the checkout you redeem your coupon(s) using QR (or NFC), and finally pay the (10% discounted) price using NFC mobile payments. Therein lies a whole host of benefits for the consumer that extend far beyond payments.
Feedback from my presentation at MobeyDay indicated I am not alone in this thinking, and there appears to be a growing industry awareness that value-added services are fast becoming a ‘must have’ rather than just a ‘nice to have’. This was further underlined this week in a report from Accenture which suggests that mobile payments will ‘stagnate’ unless consumers are offered more benefits. Read it here.
In summary, by leveraging the inherent power of the modern smartphone and overlaying smart, value added services that bring real benefits to consumers, we can provide consumers with compelling reasons to change entrenched behaviour forever, to leverage the power in their mobile and reap benefits that far outweigh anything possible from the plastic card. Changing consumer behaviour in this way is never easy, and will only ever happen when there are real, significant, tangible benefits, and value added services could well be the way we achieve that for mobile commerce.
Andy Ramsden, VP Sales & Business Development – EMEA