2014 was a big year for the mobile payments industry with Apple Pay diving into mobile wallets, and Starbucks and other retailers gaining traction with apps that combine loyalty and engagement programs with mobile payments.
But despite its success, a number of setbacks also influenced the publics perception of the mobile payments industry. Between data breaches and Apples clash with CurrentC, the mobile payments space continued to battle the impression that it is unsafe, unreliable, and fails to provide the market with a compelling reason to move away from ingrained payment behaviors.
Having said that, the mobile payments industry sits in a pivotal position as the year closes, with much to be gained as new technologies continue to emerge and improve. Heres a look at what surprised us in 2014 and some hopes, predictions, and hurdles to ponder for the new year.
2014 Surprises: The Apple Pay launch didnt surprise usthe consumers did. The will they, wont they question about Apples mobile payments plans was finally answered with the launch of Apple Pay. However, unlike most of Apples products, Apple Pay was not an automatic win for the company. Despite the consumer-friendly perks of the technologies (unmatched biometric security and anonymous customer data), Apples consumers are still coming to terms with the disparity of the productnot all merchants were so quick to jump on the Apple bandwagonand its lack of rewards or benefits.
Apps like Uber and Hailo turned the transportation industry on its head by making it safer, easier and more convenient to reserve and pay for travel. While Uber has been experiencing a backlash of late, these technologies exemplify how integrating the payment solution into a user-friendly consumer experience can do wonders for consumer adoption.
As for 2015's Aspirations and Predictions: Theres room for security, mobile engagement, and universality on this playground.
Weve got your back. In order to convince customers that mobile payments methods are indeed the way forward, consumers will need to feel safe and secure in their purchasing habits. Increases in sophisticated biometric technologies will help to assuage customer qualms.
Loyalty is cash in your pocket. More outlets and retailers attempting to turn loyalty into currency will continue to drive adoption of mobile payments.
From mobile to wearable. In 2015, the mobile payment industry will see an even bigger pull from traditional phone devices, with convenient wearables like Apple Watch and Android Wear vying for space in the market.
Convenience is convincing. With mobile payments, loyalty, and engagement programs continuing to add more tricks to their wheelhouse, convincing consumers to try mobile experiences will become easier. Benefits like ordering ahead, skipping lines, and geo location detection makes the consumer experience unique and seamless. Similarly improved personalization and recommendation technologies will improve customer engagement for merchants who choose to take advantage of these new technologies and programs.
Universal apps are the future. One of the main issues with mobile payments is its disorganization and lack of cohesion. The introduction of apps that can change skin depending on their location, and even improvements to platforms like Google Wallet and Apple Passbook, will make shopping experiences more user friendly and increase adoption.
The future will beckon to the beacons. As the technology improves, interactions with beacons will become more consumer-friendly. This presents an interesting and exciting opportunity for stores and merchants who will be able to customize their engagement with customers throughout the store. However, ensuring consumers are not bombarded with offers will be another hurdle for the industry.
While the industry has seen growth in loyalty and engagement programs, the adoption of mobile payments methods proved slower than expected in 2014. The reasons are multifaceted, but here are a few hurdles we can expect to continue into the New Year:
Killing plastic takes time. Consumer behavior is a big factor and asking people to change their habits takes time. Having said that, the industry is making progress at convincing consumers to put down their wallets and pick up their phones.
No one wants the liability. Considering retailers and banks are already at odds over liability, asking all parties involved in mobile payments adoption to play nice is no small feat.
Convince consumers by ending data theft. Data breaches continue to be a big concern for consumersand rightfully so. Showing consumers that the industry is taking proactive measures to prevent hacks and breaches will be imperative for further growth and adoption.
Despite these reservations, the mobile payments industry continues to make headway with increasingly sophisticated technologies helping to assuage consumer fears. Similarly, with industry leaders like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts committed to an improved consumer experience, the future looks bright for mobile payments adoption.
Tiago Soromenho is vice president of Ventures Lab and Founder of Mozido StickyStreet at Mozido.