Why Nobody Should Care About Mobile Payments. (At Least Not Yet.)

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Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that mobile payments which utilize NFC (near field communication) technology have been gaining speed and consumer adoption.

While this technology is groundbreaking, and mobile payment providers see the new mobile wallet as a silver bullet for cutting the big banks out of the payment loop, what does this all mean for the average smartphone wielding consumer?

Not much.

Some convenience. No more overstuffed wallets. A few seconds saved when entering online payment information. Obviously these small conveniences add up, with $235.4 billion in global mobile payment spend as of 6 months ago, and $62.24 billion projected for 2016 in the US alone. But should anyone really care?

Mobile Payments adoption rate USA

Many industry experts are touting 2015 to be the year of mobile payments. Every day it’s hard to NOT hear about a new mobile payment competitor entering into the market. But what makes these mobile wallet providers different? More Importantly, what makes the retail mobile payment experience any better?

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee! Just like credit cards, all the mobile payment wallets have the same essential functionality: payment…That’s it. Soon mobile payment and mobile wallets will have to differentiate by adding on the that basic functionality. So what can retailers and mobile payment providers do to make mobile payments as exciting as this Chase/ Apple pay commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtRw1gBl3LE

Adding More “Usefulness” to mobile payments before you should actually care.

Mobile payments are not really useful yet. If you watched the 41 second video above, you may have noticed that there’s no mind blowing cool-factor in the payment experience. You could have just as easily switched out the shots of mobile payment for a regular old swipe of a credit card and it would be pretty much the same commercial.

So what will be the next technology that will utilize the functionality of mobile payments and shoot off some society changing fireworks? Only time will tell.

But there are lots of exciting new technologies that can integrate mobile payments into the retail environment in some very creative ways:

  • Some are looking at loyalty apps like level up or bellycard to get customers to integrate their mobile wallets with a loyalty program. Not to mention all of the branded apps
  • ibeacon technology and other RFDI tech like that provided by Zebra technologies are now being used to implement geo-fencing into retail locations. (Most notable is the recent nationwide rollout of shopkick’s ibeacon program at all of Macy’s locations.) These technologies don’t automatically interface with mobile wallets but it’s only a matter of time with retail marketers gunning for an ever more encompassing omnichannel strategy.
  • Some companies are focusing completely on the customer experience. Lineapple is letting customers wait in line with their smart phone instead of in person. This technology interfaces with mobile payments seamlessly at the point-of-sale letting customers shop longer without ever having to wait in line whether it be the customer service, fitting room, or checkout line. (or even turn the fitting room into a checkout station) Lineapple’s API is also integrating into branded loyalty apps and ibeacon technologies.

So now you can get excited about the future of mobile payments and you should start caring just enough to follow the trends. We’ll be covering all things mobile & retail so you may want to subscribe to our weekly “Retail Round-up” which delivers the top five retail tech articles of the week.


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