Every part of the mobile supply chain is getting in on the mobile payments act. This is being driven not by technology, but by a shift in consumer behaviour.
GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona had a different buzz about it this year. There were more people there for one thing (unconfirmed reports of 60,000 as opposed to last year’s 43,000– although no doubt someone will correct me if I’m wrong).
Every year for, I think, the past five, people have been proclaiming that this is the year of mobile payments. But this year something had shifted. There was more business done on the stand, hands shaken on deals, and signed distribution contracts.
People weren’t just sniffing around to see what’s round the corner, they were queuing up to see what’s happening now. We’ve already had the first tranche of follow up calls coming in to sign up to mobile payment contracts. There’s definitely a change in the temperature this year.
Every part of the mobile supply chain is trying to get in on the act, and there’s a real scramble going on to win territory.
Handset manufacturers want to put mobile payment provision on their phones or tablets. Network operators and MVNOs want to offer secure payment options.
The banks have realised that mobile banking doesn’t just mean bank statements sent on SMS. App developers are looking for ways of creating in-app payments that don’t send the consumer off to another site and lose them in the process, or that pay most of the purchase cost in commission to the app store.
And just about everyone is waking up to the fact that the consumer is at the heart of this, not the technology.
How far we’ve come from the days when mobile payment meant reverse billing for micro-payments, done via your phone bill.
Consumers are starting to buy big stuff from devices that aren’t fixed Internet points. The iPhone and iPad have a lot to do with this, of course. Suddenly, buying something significant – whether it’s a flight or a the weekly shop – doesn’t seem like a ridiculous thing to do on a mobile device that now has a large, high definition screen.
We’re regularly seeing mobile payments of more than £1,000 going through our system, and M&S reported recently that a customer had bought two sofas worth £3,280 over a mobile phone.
Consumers will adopt mobile payments in the way they adopted internet payments if the way they can pay is familiar to them.
Credit or debit card payments are the way we all pay for stuff now, so this should be replicated in a mobile payment. A long pre-registration process for every website you visit is going to put you off buying (and will turn away those ‘impulse’ buyers that mobile payments are driving).
For the first time, it seems that all the parts of the chain get this. The emphasis has moved away from pushing consumers into using overly complicated technologies or new payment mechanisms, and has gone back to basics. Pay with a credit or debit card, over any platform you like.