What's the Next Step After Consumers Adopt Mobile Wallets?

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Fast-forward into our ideal mobile payment future. Standardized contactless terminals stand on every checkout counter, ready to transact securely with any device. However, once mobile wallets cross the adoption hurdle, they can’t be content to rest. There are essential steps the technology will have to take to ensure its hard-won users don’t rethink the decision to go mobile.

For better or for worse, humans want simplicity, and a single stumbling block can be enough to make us abandon a task altogether. Mobile wallets were created to simplify an already simple payment process. If, during a mobile wallet transaction, a customer finds it too complicated or time-consuming, chances are they will abandon it and move on. Eliminating or consolidating steps to streamline the payment process is likely the most important action mobile wallets can take to ensure an experience customers are eager to have routinely.

In fact, a key element in the long-term success of mobile wallets is optimizing the entire digital experience. This comprises two components—the ease of use of the technology itself, and the relevance of the content it delivers. Mobile devices present inherent user challenges: their screens are small and difficult to type on. To replace the ingrained action of pulling out a credit card, using a mobile wallet has to be highly intuitive. A slew of wearable innovations have taken up the challenge, from tap-to-pay watches, to suits with payment technology embedded in the cuff, to the “Nod to Pay” app for Google Glass.

When it comes to consumers’ perception of their digital experience as relevant, it’s been long established that personalization is key, while never crossing into creepier territory. As Leslie Berland, senior vice president of digital partnerships and development at American Express, told Wired told Wired: “Our card members expect us to know where they are.” A user’s comfort with a mobile wallet provider knowing an established level of data about his or her commerce patterns is actually what will lead that same customer to have a more positive shopping experience, one that’s tailored to the individual. For example, seamlessly tying a user’s loyalty program account into a mobile wallet will greatly enhance the experience of using one, both in terms of convenience and added value.

Not only does the digital experience of using a mobile wallet have to be carefully constructed. The in-store experience is equally as critical. PaymentsSource Editor-in-Chief Daniel Wolfe’s recent essay on the perils of being a mobile wallet early adopter highlighted the necessity for stores to educate their employees on mobile procedure and define a checkout strategy that processes conventional and mobile transactions with equal speed. Once mobile-enabled retailers provide users with rapid checkouts and other mobile-only perks like digital coupons and paperless receipts, the retail experience can consider itself transformed.

Ben Kaye manages product marketing at Points.

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