As mentioned in my previous post, smartphone use is on the rise. Users are becoming more and more attached to their devices to the point that a significant portion of owners keep their phones within arm’s reach 24 hours per day. At this point, 48% of users even think it’s acceptable to use their phone on the toilet. Now let’s be realistic here. Use of phones for everyday tasks is increasing and in keeping with the trends, it is safe to assume that the era of mobile payment will soon be upon us. In fact, it’s already knocking at the door.
But what is mobile payment going to look like going forward? Who will lead the charge? If/When business owners decide to integrate mobile payment into their process, what are their options? Let’s take a look at these questions.
Mobile payment means a change in the trust dynamic that we have with our phone. Trust will be a factor that will take some time to build for mobile, but as with desktop purchases before it, mobile will soon be accepted into the circle of trust that consumers have with their money.
Companies like LevelUp are one of the leaders in this transition and have shown some promising updates in the way mobile users can spend their money. LevelUp is currently the largest mobile payment platform in the nation and is releasing some apps that allow for website and app developers to connect with their system in order to facilitate transactions from businesses mobile sites and apps. Companies such as Zuppler are using LevelUp to allow users to pay for food deliveries on their phone with a simple verification process. As of right now this is giving Zuppler a competitive advantage, however in the near future, just think what this will do for purchases. Merchants who effectively connect with their target over mobile will now have a way to facilitate transactions and reduce the risk of losing such high numbers through the funnel.
So when is the shift from early adopters to early majority going to happen? What it will come down to is having a few big players pick it up, and the rest will follow suit. Starbucks is one of the businesses that will be a deciding factor as to which platforms will be the most successful. They have a huge customer base and nearly 25% of them have signed up for their mobile app. The next step will be introducing them to online payment styles and seeing how they take to it. Starbucks currently gets good processing rates from Square, but the question remains, “Who will they choose as their provider?” As a large company, the decision that they make will likely influence the decisions of other companies that decide to follow suite. A lot is riding on Starbucks next move.
Some of the other options that companies will have are rich with interesting features, so just because Square is doing well doesn’t mean they will come out on top. Google Wallet is another up and coming option that gives users the ability to pay by tapping your phone on terminals in select stores.
Now since we have been on the subject of electronic payments, specifically mobile, let’s talk a little about the looming giant in the distance, Bitcoin.
Bitcoin has gained popularity over recent years as a form of international currency exchange whose value is not backed by any central bank. They provide the ability to conduct internet transactions with little to no cost per transaction. This makes them a very attractive tool for businesses to accept money from customers, while avoiding all the credit and debit fees that they are currently paying.
The system of exchange has gained a lot of attention due to its links to the purchasing of illegal narcotics on black market websites. This means that as the use and exchange of this currency increase, there will be an increase in regulation behind it. Despite this negative attention, legitimate businesses from around the world have begun accepting Bitcoin from their customers. An ATM has even been opened in Vancouver, B.C. in a local coffee shop that accepts Bitcoin. There are plans to open 4 new locations in Canada in the coming months. This is an exciting time and while I remain skeptical, it will be interesting to watch as this possible shift in banking gains popularity.
Who do you think will emerge as a leader in mobile payments?
What are your thoughts on the legitimacy of Bitcoin?