The resurgence of commotion in the “mobile wallet” space has once again taken on a feverish pitch. Headlines such as “Wallet Wars” and “Google vs. Apple. vs. Samsung” are ubiquitous taglines for major publications. Industry veterans like myself are frustrated that this “revolution” will never occur without active participation from the merchant community. Until there is a clear and identifiable value for accepting mobile payment, there will be no user adoption.
The technological financial infrastructure that allows the movement of payments has undergone significant changes, but this change has not reflected any substantial savings for the merchant. The status quo has remained the same, allowing those major players to reap the benefits of lower operational costs, while the merchant fees continue to support the entire system.
Transparency in the system has exposed this inherent flaw and allowed new players to move monetary value from the consumer to the merchant. New forms of payment, such as bitcoin and cryptocurrency, will hinge on the merchant’s ability to realize this income across the board, and security will play a large role in their success.
Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay all rely on technology that does very little to enhance the customer experience surrounding the transaction itself. The technology of NFC and QR Codes do not reduce the steps in a transaction, nor do they add any novel functionality within the transaction for the benefit of both the customer and the merchant, such as instant couponing, promotions, or rewards. In a classical sense, they are simply putting “lipstick on a pig.” In addition, because each payment service is device specific, there will never be an outright winner. Merchants can never pick one service over the other at the cost of losing a customer.
When I was developing the platform for what eventually would become my company, I studied multiple POS systems and mobile payment integrations. Frustrated by the limited functionalities and options, I set out to build my own. The key questions I had to constantly ask myself during the planning and development stage was, “How does this technology benefit the merchant?” and “Does this feature address and solve a real problem?”
For any small, medium, or large business looking to adopt mobile payment at their point of sale, the mobile strategy needs to increase transaction speed, seamlessly integrate loyalty and rewards in the process, and deliver unique customer data in order to provide a tailored purchasing experience.
Below are a few mobile wallet features merchants should consider when deciding whether or not to integrate them into their existing systems.
- Order Ahead: Customers don’t like to wait in line, nor do they like waiting for their check. A prepaid order option for customers on the go is a must-have feature for any mobile wallet. The app should also keep an accurate real-time receipt history for every transaction.
- Accept Any Form of Payment: A mobile wallet should support all forms of digital payment. Whether it’s bitcoin, ACH, credit, debit or loyalty, be ready to accept any form of payment the customer chooses. Being payment-type agnostic allows you to be flexible for your customers’ benefit.
- Integrate With All Software: There are around 187 million smartphones in use in the U.S. But only 25 million of those devices have the software necessary to complete an Apple Pay, Samsung pay, or Android Pay transaction combined. Accept a mobile wallet regardless of the customer’s device. The last thing you want to do is deny a customer the ability to pay because of the type of phone they have.
- Include Loyalty Points and Rewards: The application must integrate merchants existing loyalty and gift card plans, allowing customers to earn points and rewards with every purchase. Automatically apply rewards, making physical cards irrelevant to the customer. This will keep them coming back to your store over and over again.
- Enhance the Customer Experience: First look at the overall customer experience. In the technology business, what seems great today may not be around in the near future. The customer will expect merchants to have software that improves the buying experience.
Merchants should keep these features in mind as we move forward in the era of mobile payments.