By Michael Gavin
A mobile wallet is an electronic account denominated in a currency and held on a mobile phone that can be used to transfer money. Mobile, or digital, wallets are most commonly linked to a traditional credit card or a bank account, and the point of interaction, or payment, is between a smartphone or tablet and a payment acceptance device.
Mobile payments rely on new technologies, such as near field communication (NFC) and quick response (QR), and require an enabled smartphone or tablet for the consumer and a mobile-enabled acceptance device for the merchant. Currently, smartphone penetration exceeds 55 percent within the United States, but only one in six POS terminals in the United States are equipped to accept mobile payments, according to MobilePaymentsToday.com.
Even though mobile payments and digital wallet usage are still in their infancy there's no denying that a convergence point is upon us. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, 48 percent of consumers are interested in alternative payment options, and 27 percent are interested in using technologies such as smartphones and tablets to enhance the overall shopping experience.
Peter Olynick, Carlisle & Gallagher's Practice Lead, Cards and Payments, predicted that, "Within five years, half of today's smartphone users will be using mobile wallets as their preferred payments method."
Preparing for the mobile wallet revolution can be a daunting task, filled with a vast amount of requisite research. Even armed with the latest information and predictions, there is no crystal ball as it relates to mobile payments and which platforms, wallets or commerce applications will gain mass adoption and usage among consumers.
Currently, there are hundreds of mobile wallets with offerings from card issuers (MasterCard Worldwide, Visa Inc.), wireless carriers (Sprint Nextel Corp., Isis), individual retailers (Starbucks, Merchant Customer Exchange), online enterprises (Google Inc., PayPal Inc.) and startups (LevelUp, Lemon Inc., Square Inc.).
And, according to comScore Inc., while consumer awareness is higher for recognizable brands like Google, PayPal and MasterCard, no clear-cut leader has emerged yet.
Some industry analysts even argue that, much like their practice with traditional credit cards, consumers will adopt more than one digital wallet with usage preference driven by value and convenience. A review of just a handful of mobile wallets, with their varying form factors and technology challenges, indicates the driving value for both consumers and merchants is still unclear. Following is a description of several contenders:
In reality, mobile commerce is about much more than just processing payments. Its true value lies in its potential to completely transform the customer experience and enhance relationships between merchants and their customers.
The mobile wallet enables merchants to combine the ease of mobile payments with integrated loyalty and rewards programs. With consumer expectations high and competition at every turn, loyalty marketers can engage and retain these customers by delivering a complete shopping experience - one that includes payments, loyalty redemption and ongoing relevant communication, both before and after a purchase.
Merchants can take advantage of mobile wallet capabilities to provide a highly tailored and personalized experience to their customers. Because every mobile device is connected to a single individual with a unique profile and history, merchants have the opportunity to deliver offers and communications that are relevant, attractive and timely at the individual customer level.
Unlike the traditional retail experience that separates the advertising, communication, payment, loyalty, special offer and discount experiences, the mobile wallet has the ability to integrate all of those touches through a single device, or interaction, providing a far more relevant, positive and enticing customer experience.
As Merchant Warehouse Senior Vice President, Sales, Michael Gavin is responsible for day-to-day management of the company's direct sales, as well as leadership of all sales activities within the company's agent channel. He has served as a key leader within the organization since joining the company in late 2000. Merchant Warehouse's Genius Customer Engagement Platform is a single, intuitive platform that integrates every transaction technology, loyalty program and more. Contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the company, visit http://merchantwarehouse.com.
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