Jul 30, 2007

“Perhaps mobile payment shouldn't just be thought about from the merchant’s perspective”

Timo’s comment on our mobile payment demo got me thinking about why so much of the innovation that I am excited about is focused on merchants. I can’t seem to get as excited about payment innovation that doesn’t benefit merchants, even though I know that this goes against the mainstream view point which focuses everywhere but on merchants. There’s lots of benefit in exploring an industry blind spot and being one of a very few to fill a need.

Few people focus heavily on making new payment technology much more exciting for merchants, yet without that, it will be difficult to find places that accept payment using contactless cards or mobile phones. It often seems like people are focused on either fiddling around with cool technology (the ‘solution in search of a problem’ syndrome) or they are looking at how technology can benefit themselves as a user (the ‘I would love to be able to leave home without my wallet’ syndrome, which is so self centred that it forgets about the complicated value chain that can prevent stuff from getting to market when a key player doesn’t see what’s in it for him).

Timo’s blog post shows a more nuanced understanding. I was impressed with the comment on using the receipt printer for what some people would consider a blasphemy (“What? Print a paper receipt when you can store the receipt in the phone’s memory?”) Here’s what Timo writes:
“It’s great to see that the transaction is very fast and there is at least basic audible feedback at the point of touching. It’s also interesting to note the integration of a paper receipt into the process. While a mobile wallet can provide payment history and receipts, the paper receipt builds trust in the transaction and its value should not be overlooked.”

Exactly!

Check out Timo’s blogpost on collaborative filtering. We are also working on something in the same space to build automated cross promotions along the lines of “people that shop like you also shop at these other places, for which we hereby offer you a special sample promotion.” But we’re looking at a mass market solution which simply prints the offer on the credit or debit card receipt. As we become comfortable with true mass availability (and consumer adoption) of NFC mobile phone concepts, it will be easy to begin migrating these features to the phone. Until then, paper is cheap, easy, widely understood by everyone and completely integrated within all retailers’ checkout procedures, requiring no re-training of staff or customers. Hard to beat!

Want to hear what merchants themselves are saying about mobile payment? Click here.

1 comment:

Timo said...

Thanks for the great response Aneace. My comment on the merchant focus was reflecting a greater frustration with the lack of understanding of the desirability/appeal (even usability) of services for people/users. I'm seeing far too much talk about loyalty cards, product information, coupons, etc. with NFC, which is just too easy and usually technology driven. I see now that my frustration should probably be vented more at mobile operators and credit services/banks.

BTW this research goes some way towards the deeper understanding I'm talking about. Perhaps we should conduct a similar study with a focus on payment methods...