Mobile Payments Today: May's top reads
Chatbots seem to be all the rage these days, but how exactly does this form of AI benefits financial institutions and retailers as they seek to better connect with their customers?
Luckily for them, companies such as MasterCard and Western Union are working with the Facebook Messenger platform to show what is possible with chatbots on that system. Mobile Payments Today interviewed executives from MasterCard and Western Union to learn about what each company is doing with Messenger and chatbots. That was the most-read story on the site in May.
Another area financial institutions will want to keep close tabs on is person-to-person payments.
A new study from Bank of America showed that consumers these days consider P2P payments a new social norm as something such as Venmo becomes more popular. Banks stand to benefit from this trend as they put more resources behind Zelle, a product that is a direct answer to Venmo.
Rounding out the top five stories in May are pieces about mobile payments' current standing with consumers; a contributed piece about how mobile can set the tone for payments; and a coverage from the National Restaurant Association's annual show in Chicago.
5. "Restaurants realizing importance of mobile payments and loyalty" — Loyalty and order-ahead-and-pay are becoming the standard in the industry.
If you want to get an idea about how important it's become for restaurants to have a sound mobile strategy in 2017, the large crowd that gathered to listen to a session about loyalty at the National Restaurant Association's annual trade show this past weekend in Chicago will give you an indication of what's at stake.
About 150 attendees squeezed into a small area on the trade show floor to listen to Loyalty Plant's Jim Steinberg discuss what restaurants can do to ensure success with a mobile app.
And while Steinberg talked about Loyalty Plant's own success in the market, he imparted some key points that echoed recent technology trends.
"Get into this sooner rather than later because this is going to be a standard in the industry," Steinberg said about restaurant-branded mobile apps that boast features such as loyalty and order-ahead-and-pay.
4. "Consumers consider mobile P2P a new social norm" — Bank of America's latest Trends in Consumer Mobility Report shows that P2P adoption is strong across all generations. While millennials lead the charge, Gen Xers, baby boomers and even seniors use such services to varying degrees.
A portion of consumers these days consider mobile person-to-person payments to be the new social "norm," and it's not just millennials who hold this view.
Bank of America's latest Trends in Consumer Mobility report shows that P2P adoption is strong across all generations. While millennials lead the charge, Gen Xers, baby boomers and even seniors use such services to varying degrees.
And of those consumers who do not currently use P2P, nearly half predict that they will use such services in the coming months, with baby boomers and Gen Xers at the front of the line.
This can only be good news for mobile P2P providers as competition increases in the industry.
3. "Future of payments? Phone will set the tone" — Consumers are looking for tools that make moving and managing money convenient and enable them to take control of their financial lives. Mobile can accomplish these things.
Consumers have grown accustomed to real-time experiences in their everyday lives — making connections, downloading music, managing travel. In this fast-paced reality where information needs are often satisfied instantaneously, consumers now demand the same immediacy from their financial institutions.
The latest Expectations & Experiences: Household Finances quarterly consumer trends survey from Fiserv, released in February 2017, found that whether they're financially comfortable or struggling, people are looking for tools that make moving and managing money convenient and enable them to take control of their financial lives.
The shift towards self-service in mobile channels continues to mature, particularly among millennials; over a 30-day period, millennials accessed their financial organization via mobile app or browser 8.5 times on average versus 3.1 times for non-millennials. Millennials are a useful barometer of future trends because the demographic is growing.
2. "It's a weird time for mobile payments" — We've seen multiple studies over the past few months that conclude younger generations are aware of mobile payments, but don't care much about them — a service such as Venmo being the rare exception.
Every so often, someone will say something at an industry conference that sticks with me for awhile.
That memorable observation or statement usually comes from a company executive or analyst. But one particular observation that has been stuck in my head lately came from someone in a demographic that financial companies focus on ad nauseam these days.
"Apple Pay's biggest rival is the little pouch you can put on the back of your phone [to carry your credit card]."
1. "Facebook Messenger chatbots prepare financial services companies for the future" — Consumers these days want to connect with their preferred brands at a moment's notice. This, in turn, has forced companies to dabble in areas that didn't exist three to five years ago.
Consumers these days want to connect with their preferred brands at a moment's notice. This, in turn, has forced companies to dabble in areas that didn't exist three to five years ago.
Today's latest trend is the chatbot, specifically within Facebook's wildly popular (1.2 billion monthly users worldwide) Messenger platform. The social media company last month announced Messenger Platform 2.0, "a new suite of tools that gives [software developers] the ability to build richer experience, get discovered, and extend the conversational, visual and social capabilities of bots."
Financial services companies and retailers are poised to take advantage of Messenger's enhancements to connect with their customers at any time. MasterCard, MoneyGram and Western Union individually announced their entry onto the platform at the Facebook Developer Conference last month in California.
For MasterCard and Western Union, the decision to enter the chatbot domain is about keeping pace with consumers' preferences while keeping an eye on what the future might bring with emerging technology.
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.