Mobile Payments Today: March's best reads

| by Will Hernandez
Mobile Payments Today: March's best reads

iStock illustration.

Amazon continued to reign media headlines in March, mostly on the hot rumor that it might be working with the likes of Capital One and Chase on banking products. 

That rumor resurfaced a couple of days ago as Amazon reportedly wants to create checking accounts that target teenagers. 

In the wake of the initial rumor, industry experts flooded Twitter with a number of hot takes about Amazon and banking. Some were more viable than others. 

We published a commentary from Dr. Louise Beaumont, strategic adviser at Sapient Consulting, in what was one of the most-read pieces of content on Mobile Payments Today in March. 

"Those still in denial that Amazon wants to expand – and the key word is expand as it already offers financial services – can no longer deny the trend of tech titans and large data players wanting to win the hearts, minds and deposits of consumers and small businesses," Beaumont wrote. 

I wrote an article about Amazon's bread-and-butter as the company's Go concept continues to snowball into something bigger than it already is at the moment. 

"Go isn't necessarily a new concept, but Amazon's take on cashierless shopping brings with it questions about the future of retail, and changes the way consumers buy goods," I wrote. "In turn, traditional retailers are thinking about how to combat one of Amazon Go's most attractive features: convenience."

Rounding out the top five stories from last month are pieces about MasterCard's expanded relationship with MNOs; how connected cards are driving connected payments; and how some merchant service providers are bringing cryptocurrency acceptance to a wider audience. 

5. "Convenience will be at the center of how retailers answer Amazon Go": Go isn't necessarily a new concept, but Amazon's take on cashierless shopping brings with it questions about the future of retail, and changes the way we as consumers buy goods.

Amazon Go once again captured headlines a couple of weeks ago on a rumor that the e-commerce king is preparing to build more Go stores in Seattle and one in Los Angeles.

While the company publicly refuted a Recode report, the idea that Amazon might expand Go outside its home base shouldn't surprise anyone given the buzz the concept has generated in the past year.

And Amazon already has a framework for how it opens physical stores. It opened its first physical bookstore in Seattle almost three years ago. The chain has spread to 13 locations and counting, with two locations each in the Boston area and New York City. 

Amazon has been down this road before. But Go is a different animal.

Go isn't necessarily a new concept, but Amazon's take on cashierless shopping brings with it questions about the future of retail, and changes the way consumers buy goods.

In turn, traditional retailers are thinking about how to combat one of Amazon Go's most attractive features: convenience.

Read the rest of the article. 

4. "MasterCard strengthens ties to mobile network operators": The Purchase, New York-based card network has already helped MNOs such as Vodafone Ukraine, Digicel Group in the Caribbean, Viettel Telecom in Vietnam and Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom to roll out various services related to digital payments.

MasterCard is strengthening its ties with mobile network operators with a new suite of services that are intended to help those companies better assist subscribers and small businesses connect to digital payment experiences.

The Purchase, New York-based card network has already helped MNOs such as Vodafone Ukraine, Digicel Group in the Caribbean, Viettel Telecom in Vietnam and Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom to roll out various services related to these new offerings such as Masterpass integration, direct carrier billing and QR code-based payments as well as data insights for small business to help them identify new opportunities.

Mobile operators over the years have traditionally dealt with direct carrier billing companies for similar services, but such efforts mostly address digital content. MasterCard believes it is in a better position to help MNOs to bridge the gap between digital and physical goods for both subscribers and small businesses.

That is an issue direct carrier billers have worked on for the past few years, but with varying degrees of success.

Read the rest of the article.

3. "Can Amazon deliver the next generation of financial services?": Dr. Louise Beaumont, strategic adviser at Sapient Consulting, discusses the e-commerce giant’s potential interest in banking.

The news that Amazon is looking to develop new checking accounts, with a specific target on underserved customers and millennials is unsurprising. Those still in denial that Amazon wants to expand – and the key word is expand as it already offers financial services – can no longer deny the trend of tech titans and large data players wanting to win the hearts, minds and deposits of consumers and small businesses.

Data, trust and scale. These are often cited as the three core elements to 'winning' in financial services, with the implication being banks have these in abundance. So too do the tech titans, more so, I would argue.

Potentially partnering with an incumbent also removes another worn argument that they these firms don't want to get a bank licence, or be regulated as such.

The explicit target audience is also interesting and speaks to segments of the customer base that have been poorly served. Just look at the bank statement of any twenty-something. You'll increasingly see the rich spending data from a millennial's daily life is giving way to fewer, bulkier transactions: Venmo payments, transactions via Apple Pay, PayPal transfers, and a credit card bill paid off monthly in exchange for customized rewards.

Read the rest of the article. 

2. "How connected cars are driving connected payments": All the necessary software and hardware components together with the processes for the creation of the connected car pay at pump use case are currently available. The creation of a commercially viable, fully integrated solution is the next step and there are no technical or regulatory barriers to doing so.

Technologies associated with IoT are inexpensive, low powered and frequently based on common software platforms. Recent rapid development in the automotive/haulage industries allows the integration of this tech into cars/trucks. These developments have coincided with the simultaneous rise in fintech with the use of technology supporting financial services such as payments, fostering a commonality of innovative development across these domains.

There are innovative opportunities created by merging one industry with another and also driven by the IoT trend.
For example, this can be illustrated by the implementation of an autonomous "pay at pump" use case showing how the integration of IoT and payments technology into car IVI systems and fuel pumps will allow the financial transaction associated with buying fuel to be handled completely autonomously. The deployment of computer vision technology for authentication, and connectivity for communication with payment authorities, will also facilitate autonomous payments in a large range of scenarios including for example road- toll payments too.

Read the rest of the article.

1. "Payments companies make it easier for consumers, merchants to embrace cryptocurrencies": While most consumers today likely view bitcoin, bitcoin cash and alternatives such as Ethereum and Litecoin as assets, some payments companies in the past couple of months have announced plans for consumers to more easily use cryptocurrencies as payment, and merchants to accept them.

Don't call it a comeback. I've been here for years.

The opening lines to LL Cool J's classic song, "Mama Said Knock You Out," can easily apply to the current state of cryptocurrencies as a payments choice for commerce. 

While most consumers today likely view bitcoin, bitcoin cash and alternatives such as Ethereum and Litecoin as assets, some payments companies in the past couple of months have announced plans for consumers to more easily use cryptocurrencies as payment, and merchants to accept them. 

Such moves harken back to almost eight years ago and the original intent of bitcoin: a peer-to-peer electronic cash system. 

One company has gone so far as to introduce its own twist on this trend with a poker chip-sized contactless device consumers can use to pay for goods and services in fiat currency after converting bitcoin to U.S. dollars. 

And at least one of the executives behind the crypto, merchant acceptance surge is convinced bitcoin alternatives such as Litecoin can help change the payments industry for the better. 

The questions that remain to be answered are whether everyday consumers are ready to embrace such a change, and if merchants are in a hurry to accept cryptocurrencies.

Read the rest of the article. 


Topics: ATMs, Bank Customer Experience Summit, Bill Payment, Bitcoin, Card Brands, Carriers / Operators, CONNECT: The Mobile CX Summit, Contactless / NFC, Direct Carrier Billing, EMV, Handsets / Devices, HCE, ICX Summit, In-App Payments, Loyalty Programs, Mobile Banking, Mobile/Digital Wallet, Mobile Marketing, Money Transfer / P2P, POS, Regulatory Issues, Restaurants, Retail, Security, Trends / Statistics



Will Hernandez
Will Hernandez has 14 years of experience ranging from newspapers to wire services and trade publications. Before becoming Editor of MobilePaymentsToday.com, he spent two years as the content manager for PaymentsJournal.com, a leading payments industry news aggregator and information hub published by Mercator Advisory Group. Will spent four years covering the payments industry as an associate editor for multiple publications in SourceMedia's Payments Group based in Chicago. View Will Hernandez's profile on LinkedIn

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