As merchants and app developers seek to emulate disruptors like Uber or Airbnb by embedding payments in the user experience, the pressure will mount to be one of the few apps that consumers regularly use.

Mobile app usage is like the top of wallet status for card issuers--consumers pike one of two favorite cards for most purchases. In the app world, the average consumer has about 27 apps on a smartphone, but spends nearly 90% of their time on about five of them, said Brian Meier, director of strategic merchant relations at Discover.

While mobile remains a small portion of overall commerce, it is growing. And consumers have entered a critical phase called "app neglect" or "app deletion," said Meier during this week's Mobile Payments Conference in Chicago.

"We can migrate people into the mobile space if we have that cohesive, holistic experience with them," Meier said. At Discover, 60% of our customer interactions are across all channels, so we want to be thinking about where our volume is coming from."

As part of that process, the key element is obtaining customer data and making good use of it in marketing and one-on-one communications to customers through a mobile app like Discover Deals, Meier added.

Discover also allows Apple Pay provisioning through its app, making it easy for customers to add that mobile pay method to its purchases through the Discover Deals app, Meier said. "Data is not a creepy thing, and consumers shouldn't be worried about what merchants are going to do with it," Meier added.

In citing 451 Research data, Meier said 46% of people will share personal information with a retailer if it means they would get more personalized offers, while 50% will refer a retailer app to a friend or family member if they are "getting that personalized experience."

Mobile is the heart of digital commerce and, over the next two years, will have an even more significant role in payments and customized shopping experiences, said Jamie Uppenberg, payment services global head of mobile and digital product at Discover.

"Part of this trend of mobile is how easy it is," Uppenberg said. "What consumers expect is simplicity, immediacy and relevance, and they expect it in every channel where ever they are."

This can happen in payments and marketing because mobile is a platform, rather than its own channel, Uppenberg added. "Mobile proliferates every channel and has to be a part of all business strategies."

It's a fairly simple formula for payments companies and retailers to grasp if they understand one key element, she said. "People love their mobile devices because those devices understand more about them than anything else ever," Uppenberg added.

Google will initiate another change in mobile soon when it introduces streamlined mobile apps that will allow consumers to get right to the portion of a retailer app they are interested in and make a payment with a simple click, Uppenberg said.

"You won't have to download every app with these modulized apps," she added.

Such an advancement will allow retailers to more easily obtain that preferred function on an app in which "the payment disappears into the experience itself," Uppenberg said.

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