COMMENTARY

Mobile wallets: Moving beyond payments

June 13, 2017

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By Yale Vinson, technical product manager, Blackhawk Network

Millions of Americans use smartphones for everyday tasks such as taking pictures, working out, or arranging transportation, yet mobile wallets have struggled to gain traction among consumers.

While there are new services and offers that can be integrated into mobile wallets in order to make them more attractive to consumers, the industry has simply been missing the mark by focusing primarily on payments, instead of more complete, engaging mobile commerce offers. 

With these trends in mind, the larger focus for the entire industry should be to move beyond the payments utility of mobile wallets, and consider the overall commerce experience, including alternate payment forms, offers, loyalty points, etc. But how exactly do mobile wallets move beyond payments? The solution is to find creative mobile commerce pieces that exist seamlessly alongside mobile payments. 

For merchants, the appeal of mobile transactions is the valuable consumer data that is provided. For consumers, mobile payments need to provide added value in order to be enticing. A good example of a mobile commerce gold standard is the Starbucks app.

Consumers pay with the Starbucks app not only because it’s convenient, but also because they get loyalty points for their purchases that they can use for free coffee, food, etc. This is an excellent experience for a Starbucks customer, and Starbucks is able to analyze and use the loyalty data gathered to improve the Starbucks experience by getting to know their customers better. 

Another perfect example is the Disney MagicBand.

While visitors are staying at a Disney resort, the MagicBand can be used for just about everything, including paying at merchants inside the park, checking in at park entrances, as a FastPass to shorten the ride lines, and even unlocking their hotel room door. Visitors enjoy an improved customer experience because they don’t have to carry anything around the park but the band on their wrist.

Disney is able to examine what rides are being ridden, how long guests are waiting in line and where they are eating, allowing them to better understand the guest experience at their parks. They can then use this information to enhance that experience by changing attractions that are less popular, improving line wait times, offering more enticing dining options, etc. 

The key to success for mobile wallets is to find solutions that provide added value for both merchants and consumers alike. If consumers can be enticed to adopt mobile payment products by being able to enjoy special offers and loyalty programs, merchants can in turn mine the data gathered and use that information to get to know their customers better and improve brand experiences. 


Topics: Contactless / NFC, In-App Payments, Loyalty Programs, Mobile/Digital Wallet, Mobile Marketing, Trends / Statistics


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