Mobile Payments Today: August's best reads
While it's not the innovative product it once was when it first debuted, mobile banking continues to evolve from month-to-month.
Bank of America recently announced some new features for its mobile banking app and other banks are trying to make their offerings a valuable as possible to their customers.
With that said, our feature last month about what more mobile banking can do for consumers was the most-read story on Mobile Payments Today. In it, we discussed today's market with Ed O'Brien from ath Consulting and Richard Steggall, co-founder of white-label digital banking provider Urban FT.
We piggybacked off that article with a blog post about how fintech companies are providing easy, meaningful and useful mobile experiences to consumers.
Rounding out the top five stories in July are pieces about Visa's supposed war on cash; in-app Apple Pay acceptance; and a recap of a panel from the fourth annual CONNECT: the Mobile CX Summit about Amazon Go.
5. "Will Amazon Go make cashiers and checkout lanes obsolete?" — That question was the focus of a breakout session Tuesday at the fourth annual CONNECT Mobile CX Summit in Philadelphia. The answer is complicated, which is usually the case with emerging technology options.
When Amazon last year introduced the world to its vision for grocery stores with Amazon Go, the mainstream media did its best to outdo each other to predict the retail apocalypse with the rise of the machines.
The New York Post went as far as saying Amazon's plan was the "end of jobs" as we know it. The tabloid even used superimposed Amazon's logo on the image of a robot from a cheesy sci-fi film to illustrate the point.
While Amazon Go did bring up questions about automation and the future of retail, the concept is still confined to a single location in Seattle almost nine months after it was first introduced.
Meantime, Walmart recently commenced the rollout of a mobile app that enables consumers to scan and pay for items without the need to wait in line.
While self-service checkout in itself is nothing new, the experiences that Amazon and Walmart offer do raise a compelling question for consumers and merchants: do we really need cashier and checkout lanes?
4. "Merchants miss the mark with in-app Apple Pay acceptance" — While the use of Apple Pay in mobile apps isn't a new concept, most retailers, especially in the SMB and mid-market world haven't taken advantage of its conversion advantages.
While the use of Apple Pay in mobile apps isn't a new concept, most retailers, especially in the SMB and mid-market world haven't taken advantage of its conversion advantages.
For consumers, consider the difference between having to manually enter their credit card and billing information during checkout on a 5-inch screen, versus holding their thumb on a button for a moment. Realistically, it might only save a couple of minutes, but the ease of use has huge implications in the world of mobile payments and abandoned carts.
Apple Pay is still relatively non-existent on mobile web, which is seriously detrimental to the conversion rates for online retailers without an app. When you consider that mobile commerce will make up nearly 50 percent of all e-commerce by 2020, one-touch payments are more important for online retailers than ever before.
3. "A different look at Visa's supposed war on cash" — Initially hailed as innovative, it appears that Visa's 'war on cash' is in reality a war on merchant profitability and customer payment choice. However, a 'war on plastic' is a promising business case that could actually be sold to merchants.
[A couple of weeks ago], the Wall Street Journal reported on Visa's bold new "war on cash" program. In exchange for up to $10,000 in upgraded POS hardware, merchants would agree to ban the use of cash to pay for goods and services
Visa CEO Al Kelly didn't mince words when he boasted, "We're focused on putting cash out of business."
Well of course he is. Despite persistent rumors of its demise, cash remains a formidable competitor to Visa and remains the preferred method of payment in the U.S. for a host of reasons, all well known to consumers.
With all due respect to Mr. Kelly, he and his folks must take a dim view of the intelligence of Visa's merchant customers. Recent U.S. statistics show that cash accounts for about one-third of all purchases — and for an even higher percentage of purchases under $60.
Given a transaction fee to Visa of 2 percent, a $2 million business would incur an additional $13,000 in annual Visa fees in exchange for denying customers the option of using cash. And this cost could easily mount should customers actually object to being told how they must pay.
In exchange for a cash-free establishment and some irate customers, merchants would receive "free" POS hardware from Visa. Hmmm.
2. "Fintech companies providing easy, meaningful and useful mobile experiences" — Banks need to find a way to create and maintain great relationships with existing and perspective customers. But alternative institutions are providing that experience, particularly of the mobile variety.
Last week, I wrote a story about what more financial institutions can do for consumers when it comes to mobile banking.
The story only really scratched the surface of what's missing from today's mobile banking experience.
Both my sources in the story agreed banks need to find a way to create and maintain meaningful and useful relationships with existing and perspective customers.
While that might sound like something out of the cliché handbook, it's a real problem banks continue to tackle without resounding success.
Another real problem for banks: they no longer control, or even have, all the meaningful and useful financial relationships that consumers seek daily.
Over the past few years, the so-called fintech companies of the world have captured relationships with consumers that banks crave. And I can speak from experience.
What I wanted to do in this space is share with our readers some of those experiences. Right now, banks are paying attention to a lot of nonsense and not focusing on what's in front of them: their current bank customers.
1. "What more can mobile banking do for consumers?" — Mobile remote deposit capture is not the trendy feature it once was for banks. It's expected. Today, consumers desire a way for banks to help them make the best decisions with their money.
What have you done for me lately?
That's a question consumers seem to be asking their banks these days despite the advances financial institutions have made the past few years with their mobile banking apps.
Mobile remote deposit capture is not the trendy feature it once was for banks. It's expected. Today, consumers desire a way for banks to help them make the best decisions with their money.
Personal finance management tools are great and all, but that might not be enough for some consumers. With that said, what more can mobile banking do for banks' customers?
"From our perspective, the experience that the user needs is a meaningful interaction between the bank and that user," Richard Steggall, co-founder of white-label digital banking provider Urban FT, told Mobile Payments Today. "How do the transactional services that a bank is providing tie into, in a seamless way, the day-to-day lifestyle of consumers, especially how and when they spend their money."
Steggall's view aligns with some recent consumer survey work from ath Power Consulting that shows consumers want money-saving digital services from their banks.