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Mobile payments can be so much more than just paying for your coffee and paper on the way into work.

As we’ve seen with mobile sites such as M&S, some consumers are willing to use mobile sites for those big one-off purchases that would have previously seen them buying online or on the High Street.

What do retailers need to do to tempt micro-payment converts to make bigger purchases?

A large part of convincing consumers to spend via mobile sites will be centred on trust. Do they trust the brand to keep their financial details secure? Do they already have a relationship with the brand?

Well-known brands such as M&S and John Lewis have seen large purchases in the past, but they have solid reputations and relationships to trade on.

In its recent report on the importance of trust and familiarity in mobile payments, GfK found that respondents placed the greatest trust in financial institutions to secure mobile payments.

In other words, people trust the tried and tested payment methods they know: debit and credit cards run by their banks, rather than new technologies provided by their phone operator. Card payments are the simplest for retailers to implement, the most flexible in terms of spending limits and the most secure.

We’re seeing an interesting (though perhaps unsurprising) trend in mobile payments: mobile commerce taps the impulsive nature of users. The opportunities here for marketing impulse buy products with a mobile response and payment mechanism are significant.

How much more likely are we to look up an item advertised on TV on an iPhone or Blackberry than to log on to a fixed-line computer? Or order and pay for a pizza on the way home from work? Send flowers for a birthday, or book a flight on impulse after seeing an ad on the tube?

Advertisers already know the value of mobile response to ads; why not add payment to the mix, using a secure system that consumers trust?

We’re also seeing an interesting development in the charity sector, where there is a new generation of regular charity donors via mobile.

Early stage indicators show that consumers donating via mobile are younger than average, donate using direct debit, and give higher-than average amounts. Of course the numbers of mobile donors are still relatively small, but it’s an interesting development. 

The travel industry is also a significant mover in mobile payments (as it was in e-commerce).

Ebookers recently launched a mobile holiday booking site which has seen some interesting results. In the first three months since the site launched in January 2011, 70% of bookings were for a same-day check-in. Impulse buying again.

The site is also experiencing a higher number of repeat visitors than its online counterpart. Again, this highlights the need for retailers to harness the impulsive nature of mobile users and provide them with a stable, secure and easy to use mobile site to keep them coming back for more.

Keith Brown

Published 18 July, 2011 by Keith Brown

Keith Brown is Managing Director at paythru and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (1)



Really? Underground and metro advertising witnesses large-scale mobile search? Nonsense, no 3G or wireless down there... best places would be positioned at airports, stadia and so on.. Mobile commerce has potential but the brands pushing it are not usually recognised as they attempt to gain a foothold.. services industry is more likely to gain from this form of commerce than retail.

over 5 years ago

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