A First Data Corp. global study of consumer payment preferences concluded that, regardless of nationality or geography or other differences between people, consumers expect the same things when it comes to mobile payments. According to First Data, consumers worldwide desire an easy experience, a personalized experience and an experience they can share with others. That these needs are satisfied by mobile devices promises to be yet another opportunity for ISOs.
For the First Data 2013 Global Universal Commerce Consumer Tracker Study, the largest U.S. acquirer conducted an online poll of nearly 4,000 consumers in 10 diverse markets: Brazil, China, Germany, India, Mexico, the Middle East, Poland, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States -and asked them to rate on a 10-point scale what mattered to them in the shopping experience.
First Data found that over half of all respondents desired a seamless experience that they can control, while nearly half wanted merchants to cater to them with more specific and personalized advertising and offers. Half of the respondents also wanted the ability to share their experiences via social media.
These expectations are fueled by the explosion in smartphone usage, First Data said. The result is that mobile technology has transformed how consumers shop and pay for goods and services, and this change in behavior will force merchants and merchant service providers to adapt.
Larry Drury, Chief Marketing Officer at First Data, said that technology, specifically as it creates synergy between mobile devices and the Internet, is helping a global middle class to arise. "Whether we talk to consumers in Dubai, Mexico City or Omaha, what we're finding is they all have expectations around a more convenient shopping-buying-payment experience," he said. "They have expectations around transparency, about increased levels of service. And the reason we believe that's true is they're having those experiences in other parts of their lives."
Namely, social networks that consumers tap into via technology are creating expectations about how their payment experiences should function, Drury said. In fact, consumers are integrating social media into their pre- and post-purchase habits. He said, "There was a significant portion of the consumer base that say, 'Yep, I check out social media before I go into a store, to check what my trusted advisors, my friends would say about it. And I also share afterward.'"
While this behavior is strong across the board in First Data's study, it is especially prominent in India and China, where 75 percent and 80 percent of survey participants, respectively, engage in the social sharing activity. "They index much higher on those usage characteristics than other markets like Germany," Drury said.
Drury calls the shift from the one-way payment interaction between merchants and consumers to a fuller payment experience the "Great Transition." It means that merchants and service providers must simplify, personalize and integrate solutions across multiple channels to create a holistic experience for consumers.
This is where Drury believes ISOs can leverage their advantage with merchants. "The role that ISOs play for many of their customers is they're an aggregator of best-in-class products and services," he said. "So it's in that wrapping, that consolidation function, that I think is the real opportunity."
ISOs should focus on enhancing the end user experience by identifying ways merchants can communicate with consumers more effectively and more personally, Drury said. It may mean that the standard pitch of lower rates and free terminals to satisfy merchants is a thing of the past. "The consumer's really in control of this whole big shift and we're all going to have to respond to it if we're going to succeed going forward," he added.
An executive summary of First Data's findings is available at www.firstdata.com/downloads/thought-leadership/Global_Tracker.pdf.
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