Recent earnings reports show the future for mobile payments
Mark Zuckerberg raised eyebrows in 2012 when he said Facebook, from that point forward, would be a mobile-first company.
Zuckerberg's reasons for the new direction were clear at the time: Consumers were using smartphones more than desktop computers; they were spending an incredible amount of time on said mobile devices; and Facebook thought it could have better advertising success on mobile and make more money.
Five years later, Facebook touts 1.7 billion active monthly mobile users, according to its latest earnings statement.
Facebook's mobile-first mantra has become a rallying cry of sorts for other companies, whether they're payments providers or retailers such as Starbucks. And you don't have to look much farther than current earnings reports to spot the trends.
The following is a sampling from recent earnings reports and calls:
The coffee giant has shown us what happens when you're too successful with mobile initiatives.
Starbucks revealed in its latest earnings call that the mobile order and pay feature in its popular app might have hampered earnings.
Although the chain reported that its comparable store sales were up 6 percent in China and 3 percent both globally and in the U.S. and Americas during for the 13-week period ending Jan. 1, transaction volume fell 2 percent. About 1,200 locations now get 20 percent or more of their orders through mobile order and payment. Only 13 units hit that mark in the same period last year.
"The tremendous success of mobile order and pay has also created a new operational challenge in our highest volume stores that has been building for several quarters — significant congestion at the hand-off plane," Kevin Johnson, Starbucks president and chief operating officer, said during the earnings call.
Despite the mobile ordering issues, Starbucks continues to see a boom from the app.
Mobile payments reached 27 percent of U.S. company-operated transactions for the quarter that ended Jan. 1.
Mobile order and pay represented 7 percent of U.S. company-operated transactions in the quarter, up from 3 percent year over year.
The San Jose-based payments company reported impressive mobile numbers in its latest full-year results.
PayPal's mobile-payment volume checked in at $102 billion for 2016, up 55 percent from $66 billion the previous year. Mobile payments represented 29 percent of the company's total payment volume, which was $354 billion in 2016.
In 2015, mobile payments accounted for 23 percent of PayPal's $282 billion in total payments volume.
PayPal cited a key period during the holiday season that showed the impact of mobile shopping on its bottom line. The company processed more than $2 billion in mobile payments between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Mobile accounted for one-third of overall total payment volume during that five-day period.
"Payments are rapidly digitizing," PayPal CEO Dan Schulman said during the recent earnings call. "Mobile is redefining the face of retail. And with the worldwide adoption of smartphones, consumers have all the power of a bank branch in the palm of their hands, which will no doubt transform the way they manage and move money."
One of the products driving mobile for PayPal is One Touch, a login feature that makes it faster and easier for consumers to check out online or on a mobile device.
"Its adoption has well exceeded our projection," Schulman said during the earnings call. "We ended the year with over 5 million merchants offering One Touch to more than 40 million consumers."
PayPal also saw success with its person-to-person payments app, Venmo.
Venmo payments volume increase 126 percent to $5.6 billion in 2016 from $2.5 billion the previous year.
While Visa didn't break out what percentage of its overall payments volume came from mobile payments, its latest earnings call showed mobile's importance to the company.
"E-commerce enabled by mobile and other form factors is a significant opportunity, and we are definitely investing behind it," Visa CEO Alfred Kelly said in a recent earnings call.
Visa Checkout is one way the network is addressing mobile.
Some 18 million consumers in 23 countries have a Visa Checkout account, Kelly said. Visa also has partnerships with 1,500 financial institutions around the world for Visa Checkout.
More than 300,000 online merchants worldwide can accept Visa Checkout, and Kelly said this represents some $173 billion in addressable volume.
He went on to say that digital expansion is one of the areas Visa will target for growth going forward.
"As payments move from the physical to digital world, we're leading the way in developing solutions for our clients, our partners and consumers," Kelly said.
Like Visa, MasterCard didn't not break out what percentage of its payments volume came from mobile payments. But the company did touch upon its digital initiatives during a recent earnings call.
MasterCard has enabled 80 million Masterpass accounts worldwide as of the end of 2016, CEO Ajay Banga said during a recent earnings call.
"The services have been rolled out globally with several banks, including Bank of America, Capital One, Citi, Nordea and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia," he said. "With a healthy pipeline to build on this momentum in 2017, we've also added five new Masterpass markets in 2016, bringing the total to 34."
Banga also spoke about MasterCard's global plans for Masterpass QR, an enhancement to Masterpass that enables millions of micro, small and medium enterprises across Africa to begin accepting fast and secure digital payments.
Last year, Ecobank Group became the first financial institution to roll out the service in Africa.
"This quarter, we're building on that momentum," Banga said. "We've partnered with SnapScan, a mobile QR-based payment solution backed by Standard Bank in South Africa, as well as the government of India and RBL Bank, to add a combined 40,000 merchants who will now be able to accept secure digital payments quickly and without the expense of a traditional POS terminal."
We can expect MasterCard to also address how digital payments will work with artificial intelligence to enhance the customer experience.
"This past year we launched an AI bot platform, which is similar to human interaction and enables consumers to buy products via messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and check out using Masterpass," Banga said.
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.