In today’s hypercompetitive marketplace, organizations are engaged in a fierce and constant battle to grow revenues and increase profitability. In some geographies and market segments, organizations are struggling just to maintain status quo and recover from the worldwide economic downturn. The growth and proliferation of social media coupled with increasing usage of mobile devices has added new dimensions to the dynamics of customer acquisition, consumer engagement and client retention.
More than ever before, consumers are on a level playing field with retailers, manufacturers, providers and practitioners. A consumer armed with a broadband connected information device has more access to breaking news, product information, and competitors pricing then the clerk standing in front of him. Consumers have access to product reviews, independent laboratory tests, friends’ advice and expert recommendations, all at their fingertips, while clerks only have access to information doled out to them by the retail chain or manufacturer’s representative.
Retailers could fight back with an offensive rather than defensive strategy by arming their representatives with the same tools the consumers are using, and empowering them to make decisions to win the deal rather than having the customer order from the Internet standing in front of them. Yes, this would take some change in retail culture and business practices, but at this point it looks like its change or become road-kill on the information superhighway.
But social media and mobile broadband isn’t just affecting retail. It affects marketing as well, so much so that Starbucks was able to trim millions from its advertising budget this year through the use of social over traditional media.
Manufacturers also have to adapt to the onset of this new breed of “social reporters.” Not a week goes by where information concerning new products isn’t leaked to the world, sometimes months ahead of schedule, tipping the manufacturers hand and rendering their product announcements anti-climactic. It’s been said that in the future technology will have accelerated to such a rapid pace that a new innovation in the marketplace could render a competitor’s product obsolete in a matter of days.
As a result of hyper–connectivity and rapid dissemination of information, the world is undergoing a “media-morphosis.” The internal leaks mentioned above are only the beginning. Newspapers, magazines, books and quarterly reports are made available digitally via iPads, smartphones and e-readers. You watch TV shows and movies anywhere, anytime, at your convenience. Using off-the-shelf hardware and software, anyone, anywhere can become a media production company. Many have risen from obscurity to stardom using the power of YouTube, Twitter and social media generally. I myself was recently recognized by Obopay as one of the top 20 social media influencers in relation to mobile banking, payments, and commerce, as well as mobile money — not bad for a guy that works at home in shorts and flip-flops in Florida!
Payments is one very traditional industry whose applecart is being upset by new and alternative networks and ideas. Not a single day goes by without an announcement from somewhere in the world about a new twist on payments related to social media and mobile connectivity. There is so much news concerning mobile and payments that the very publication you’re reading was formed to provide news and information focused specifically on the subject.
But as we all know, people use their mobile devices more for social media than they do for payment transactions. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+ and too many other social networks have millions of users, and tons of geo-location information and personal user preferences that would add new depth and complexity to payment transactions. Capitalizing on all this mobile network activity is the primary focus of the post–IPO Facebook. How does this social behemoth monetize its mobile users? The use of the Facebook mobile apps on iOS, Android and other mobile operating systems is quickly outpacing the use of static web-based interaction.
After all, what you do, and what you buy when you’re at home is usually far less interesting than what you do while you’re out exploring and interacting with the world around you in Generation-M!
It was pretty seamless; I turned on my phone, unlocked the screen and entered my PIN number to allow access to the Google Prepaid Card I had set up several days prior.
It was simple, smooth and the software on my handset provided a wealth of information not usually found when using a credit or debit card.
Immediately on my screen the Google Wallet interface provided the date, time, retail store, amount, as well as a map of the location where I performed the transaction. It also provided a space where I could enter notes using the phone’s keyboard, which would be stored along with the transaction.
But even with the simplicity, recordkeeping and on-the-fly account and balance information there is still a lot of dots that need to be connected in order to make this application sticky and useful to facilitate maximum uptake and consumer adoption.
I performed my first transaction at my local CVS Pharmacy. CVS was one of the original partners announced when Google Wallet was first rolled out. As this was also my first time filling my prescription with this pharmacy chain, the cashier offered me an enrollment in their rewards program. I took the plastic card from her along with the application fully expecting that I could configure the ExtraCare cards into the Rewards section of the Google Wallet software. I was taken aback to find that CVS’s loyalty program wasn’t among those listed in the Google Wallet…
As I have understanding of networks related to POS transactions and the interconnections necessary in order to provide these services, I chalked it up to the issues associated with terminals and services. Nevertheless it seems like a no-brainer to be able to touch the NFC enabled phone with the Google Wallet software installed to the POS terminal and be able to simultaneously pay for goods and accrue loyalty points with a single interaction. The need to have the cashier scan the plastic key fob or enter the phone number associated with the loyalty reward account greatly reduces the simplicity of the Google Wallet transaction.
The next day I went to my local Sprint store where I had purchased the Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone to have my contacts moved from my previous phone to the new handset. While the Sprint rep assisted me with moving my data I noticed the POS terminal on the counter and the fact that it was configured to receive MasterCard PayPass transactions. As I had read that Google Wallet VP Osama Bedier announced that Sprint would be releasing at least 10 handsets into the market in 2012 that contained Google Wallet I asked the rep if the PayPass enabled terminals accepted Google Wallet. Again I became befuddled when he replied that the terminals didn’t accept Google Wallet transactions yet.
Again I understand the interconnections and enablement that needs to be in place in order to facilitate these types of transactions. However, these are two very close partners that have a national presence that could help Google wallet gain a lot of traction and uptake by consumers. These types of opportunities should be the focus of the various partners in the ecosystem. The phone manufacturers, terminal providers, payment processors, wireless networks, software providers, loyalty programs, and retail partners, as well as the many people who are involved in this highly complex rollout of these new platforms and mobile financial services.
I understand it takes a lot of cooperation, communication, and collaboration in order to have all these cogs work together to have a system that works with the precision of a fine timepiece. But in order to gain maximum uptake, engage consumers and provide transactions that have more value than existing cash, check, debit or credit these obvious affinities the to be focused on, interconnected and utilized to their full advantage in Generation-M!
Mobile Payments Today blogger Bruce Burke convened the “Social, Mobile, Payments” conference in Orlando, Fla. earlier this year. The conference brought together representatives from mobile payments, financial services and social media.
I did it! I survived the trial by fire, and came out on the other end virtually unscathed. It wasn’t easy, there were a lot of late nights and long days… But from all input I’ve received I think I’ve provided good content and networking opportunities and somehow organized a relatively good event.
I guess if it was easy everybody would do it.
I don’t think I could’ve just put on another mobile money show. I don’t think the world needs another one of those. I needed to do something different, something unique, and something that brought together people from a lot different industries who are all trying to figure out the same thing.
It seems everyone’s trying to better understand how to marry social media, high-speed mobile networks and the idea that everyone can pay anyone, anywhere, at any time. The idea of a ubiquitous, omnipresent payment system that works across all devices, all networks, and all financial service providers is an idyllic vision. But that’s not to say it’s not attainable, because there is one thing that all these payment systems and services have in common : numbers
All cultures, all financial institutions, all payment methodologies, and all devices both static and dynamic, have one basis for common ground; that is that all transactions in some way break down to the basic universal language of numbers.
From America to Zimbabwe – regardless of language, culture, or economic class – everyone in the world uses numbers to indicate values of goods and services. From penny candy to billion dollar mansions, each item in the world has a price attached to it. So why is there so much trouble exchanging this simple numerical data? The universal numbering system is based on “0 to 9″ – ten simple digits – that are perfect and never lie. Yes, you can round up and round down; there are fractions, and percentages and all the rest of the calculations. But in its basic form and function numbers are simple and ubiquitous worldwide.
All mobile devices, feature phones, smart phones and even tablets have a keyboard which, in one form or another, contain the digits zero through nine. From the emerging market basic cell phone to the high-resolution, LTE connected iPad all these devices have one thing in common: the ability to enter numbers.
Of all the speakers that provided us with information and insight at the Social Mobile Payments conference, the one that seems most connected to this simple idea is Dwolla’s CEO Ben Milne. Sure he swears like a sailor, dresses down in jeans, t-shirts and flip-flops, and doesn’t seem to be afraid of confrontation or controversy. But his idea of a ubiquitous system where banks talk to banks and exchange money using a simple clearinghouse is about as simplistic and disruptive as you get.
Right now, as far as I know, the Dwolla services only relate to U.S. banks. But the idea of banks is pretty much universal too. Wherever there’s money, there is a need for secure place to keep that money when you’re not using it. The format, principles and processes may differ from country to country, and culture to culture, but basically banks are thought of as a secure, trustworthy place to keep your money.
So can the Dwolla idea be a premise for a global mobile money system? I don’t need to tell the readers of Mobile Payments Today about the growth of mobile financial services in emerging markets. I tweeted an article this morning about 12 billion shillings that have been transacted using mobile devices in Africa. The simplicity of a new system based on the elementary idea of moving numbers electronically from one place to another, using interconnected banks as the network, is a global idea that needs scrutiny. This simple system could help facilitate a global economic renewal through the flow of currency and the ease of global universal transactions.
The idea of reducing the number of parties required in moving money from one bank to another returns money to businesses, consumers and banks stabilizing all three legs of the stool. Eliminating third, fourth and sometimes even fifth-party companies that collect a percentage along the way redistributes the wealth to those who need it in Generation-M!
Chase recently set up shop in Florida with new banking branches springing up everywhere in my area. As my wife and I already had some cards with them we decided to move some of our accounts to the new branches. With the accounts came new tools that weren’t being offered at our previous institution, one of them being remote deposit capture for checks. Shortly after opening the new account I received a check in the mail. In my continuing efforts to use new mobile money tools I turned to the Android Market and downloaded the Chase QuickDeposit App. I found configuration and setup easy and in no time had uploaded my first check to the new account and received confirmation via email.
Having accomplished this transaction my thoughts returned to the Remote Deposit Capture Summit I attended earlier this year in Orlando, Fla. There I met professionals involved in every aspect of capturing and processing images, and learned quite a bit about an industry that’s not getting much press but is gaining a lot of traction. I went there specifically to learn and write about this segment. As most of my colleagues crank out pieces about this mobile wallet or that mobile wallet, and beat the subject to death, I thought I’d differentiate myself by developing a piece focused on something entirely different. I learned about check scanners, platform services and APIs that are available. And I came to understand that although there are many providers in the ecosystem, most rely on the services and capabilities of market leader Mitek Systems. … MORE
It has been a busy month. I’ve been to several different events, and attended many meetings that all seem to have the same message. Out of the many sessions I’ve been involved with, two clearly stand out in my mind, as they both illustrate and define the tremendous power that can be tapped when people, companies, and even animals, communicate, cooperate, and collaborate.
The first instance that attracted my attention to the theme of collaboration was a keynote speech delivered by Carlos Dominguez at the recent Tampa Bay Internet Technology Summit. Mr. Dominguez is Senior Vice President in Cisco’s Office of the Chairman of the Board and CEO. His interactive presentation included those in attendance, and focused on the power of “WE.” He spoke of embracing change, leveraging the “contribution revolution” and challenged the audience to imagine the future. But the most arresting aspect was the video Carlos introduced and then just let play, to close his presentation.
The short clip showed a large flock of thousands of birds, moving to and fro, undulating in rhythmic, almost mathematic patterns. Most of us have seen large groups of migrating birds flying in formation. Such groups will typically fly in a large “V” shape with one bird in the lead and others trailing behind in two lines.Carlos asserted this illustrates collaboration, and that the flight of the wing before us should help guide the way as our work guides another who may be behind us…
The next week, while chairing Informa’s Mobile Money CALA event in Miami, I was privileged to take part in a riveting joint presentation that truly defined collaboration. The presentation focused on the subject of solving the revenue share and ownership issues surrounding a joint partnership.
Jorge Navarro Escalante of Claro Peru and Miguel Arce of Scotia Bank Peru related individual viewpoints from the banks, as well as the mobile network operator perspective. They provided point and counterpoint on issues such as clarifying revenue sources, partnership shares, bank driven versus operator driven partnerships, and who owns the customer. They provided in-depth insight as to how they are bringing new services to market, should the banker or operator deliver, and who takes the risk.
Jorge and Miguel provided complete details, talking about their six-year old partnership focused on deployment of mobile financial services. Both agreed that each party has a different methodology and rhythm to their business processes.
Mobile network operators act quickly, moving swiftly, to capture new subscribers and markets, while banks move more methodically keeping their eye on security, and regulatory issues. The mobile network operator see the bank as more deliberate in adopting new ideas and new markets, but also see the good in their approach to the issues at hand. The bank views the mobile network operator’s sudden movements frightening but powerful.
Jorge and Miguel’s presentation has to be one of the most in-depth looks into a mobile money deployment that I’ve seen at any event. They talked about each company’s individual concerns and many different aspects of a mobile money deployment. But at no time were the comments or input critical or condescending towards the other partner. They merely presented the viewpoint of the company making the statement. Although they had different, and sometimes opposing viewpoints, they still had a common goal and communicated with one another to come up with creative, cohesive results that satisfied both parties.
It’s interesting to note that Claro Peru and Scotia Bank have been collaborating with one another, developing this deployment and rollout, since 2005. Not only was the presentation one of the most insightful sessions, it also showed depth and clarity due to the collaborative nature and communication shared by the parties.
Mobile financial services cannot be deployed by a single provider; mobile money requires an entire ecosystem to support it. Software vendors, handset manufacturers, financial institutions, retailers, processors, mobile network providers, and a litany of other supportive services, are required to make mobile financial services function properly and achieve maximum uptake. Jurgen Wassman of MasterCard best summed it up by saying, “You just want to be in the game. You don’t have be the majority stakeholder; be willing to take 49 percent!”
Competition was king in days gone past, but modern business models require communication, cooperation and collaboration to gain market share. Be included in the ecosystem and better serve your customers in Generation-M!
Recently I met with representatives of nongovernmental organizations and companies from around the world to discuss mobile financial services. Present were individuals from Lagos, Nigeria; Mumbai and Bangalore, India; Nairobi, Kenya; Germany and Canada. There were also people present from U.S. cities like New York, Orlando, Dallas and Houston. In fact, there were over 300 people there from all over to world, from almost every city you can name or imagine. MORE…
I recently read a post by Tricia Duryee on AllThingsD that got me thinking about mobile money services at a much more personal level than I have before.
In the post Tricia recounted an experience she had while moderating a panel at the MobileBeat 2011 conference with representatives from Boku, Intuit, BillToMobile, and TapJoy. She asked them all a simple question: What’s in your wallet?
The answers she got surprised her, and as I read her account, I had to do a little self-examination of my own…
It seems that even though these people represented some of the leading companies in digital dollars, only one of them had a mobile wallet. All the rest carried cash, debit cards, credit cards, reward cards and – horror of horrors! – some were even carrying checks! Now I’m not trying to embarrass anyone here; quite the contrary, I had to question myself about payment methods available in my mobile phone, and what I carry around in my back pocket.
I have to admit Tricia’s article really made me stop and ask myself the question I think we should all pose to ourselves: What am I doing on a personal level to move mobile money services ahead in Generation-M? MORE…