Slideshow 8 Mobile Wallet Mistakes

  • May 08 2015, 1:44pm EDT
9 Images Total

As many companies scramble to find the winning formula for mobile payments, they are coming to market with distinctly different ideas. It's still not clear what the best tactic should be, but a few mistakes stand out as lessons for others. (Image: iStock)

Apple Pay: Don't Treat Phones Like Plastic

When people started to complain about fraudulent Apple Pay transactions, banks took the blame. Their mistake was expecting that linking a card to Apple Pay was no riskier than activating a mailed plastic card. "Don't treat it like a card activation. If you do it like that you're gonna get burned," said James Bell, SVP at Fifth Third Bank. (Image: Shutterstock)

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LevelUp/Square: Don't Get Too Creative with Pricing

Merchants bemoan interchange, but that doesn't mean they'll accept any alternative that comes by. LevelUp and Square both tried models that offered free transactions but made their money elsewhere, and both companies found that merchants preferred the transparency of the familiar interchange model. (Image: Bloomberg News)

Google Wallet: Don't Make Banks Jump Through Hoops

The earliest version of Google Wallet required banks to go through a drawn-out process to work with Google, and only Citi was willing to do so. Google had to streamline its process and create a new virtual card to finally get more issuers to sign up. (Image: Bloomberg News)

Bling Nation: Don't Give Merchants an Ultimatum

Bling Nation scored some early success in mobile payments, convincing several small banks and retailers to sign up for its system. But then it demanded that merchants also use its loyalty program, and merchants didn't like that. "It was either you're on or you're off, and a lot of our merchants said, 'Okay, we're off,' " one of Bling Nation's bank partners said after the system shut down.

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Softcard: Don't Botch the Branding

Perhaps it's unfair to say the telcos behind what was once called the Isis mobile wallet should have prepared for the possibility that its name would be associated with a violent militant group. But as a brand name, Isis was already overused: the Egyptian goddess shares her name with dozens of entities including music groups, fictional superheroes, automobiles and software products.

MCX/CurrentC: Don't Tie Down Your Partners

Prior to the launch of Apple Pay, most consumers had never heard of the MCX CurrentC wallet. Afterwards, CurrentC was all over the news, where it was taken to task for contract terms that prompted some major retailers to block Apple Pay out of loyalty to CurrentC. (Image: Bloomberg News)

LifeLock: Don't Buy a Lemon

LifeLock's brand image is all about security. But when it purchased the Lemon Wallet in 2013 and renamed it the LifeLock Wallet, the company quickly discovered one of Lemon's shortcomings: it did not comply with the Payment Card Industry data security standard. LifeLock quickly pulled the wallet from app stores to address the issue, but this incident exposed the dangers of attaching your brand to technology you did not build.

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Weve: Don't Put Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

The most successful mobile wallets seem to be the product of a single company, such as Apple or Starbucks. But Weve, a mobile wallet venture in the U.K., changed its mission and its branding over the years without ever coming to market with a payment product. Ultimately, Telefonica O2 bought out its partners, betting it could do better by developing the Weve wallet in-house. (Image: Bloomberg News)