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‘Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle All The Way’
Hello everyone, and a very warm welcome to this year’s final edition of AppBoard Tuesday. All eyes are on the arrival of 2015, so let’s focus on something that has been tipped to be one of the ‘next big things’ in the field of mobile technology, what say? That’s right folks, today’s ABT is all about what everyone’s talking about – mobile payments.
With Google Wallet lingering around since 2011 (many have found the app not quite up to the mark though), Apple Pay was officially launched on the 20th of October this year, and there are several other mobile digital wallets currently available. As per projections by researchers and mobile app developers, the total value of mobile payments is set to go beyond $720 billion by 2017 globally (it is around the $325 billion mark at present). So, there must be something about the entire concept of mobile transactions that both buyers as well as merchants are finding to their liking? Let’s take a look:
- Moving beyond cash-only payments – Digital wallets have helped relatively small companies to expand their potential clientele by several notches. The rationale is simple enough – when a merchant company who was earlier accepting only cash payments starts accepting credit/debit cards, more people will be interested in doing business with it. Hardly anyone moves about with huge amounts of cash, and mobile payments have brought a whole new convenience for buyers too.
- Obtaining information on special deals and offers – Oh yes, many companies offer discount coupons and loyalty cards to avail special offers – but remembering to carry them is, at times, a hassle. In its stead, buyers can now access all the details about such special deals on a real-time basis on their smartphones. Sellers need not worry much about publicizing their offers either. What’s more – many of these deals can be availed via phones…there’s no need to actually visit stores.
- Giving a boost to corporate branding endeavors – The levels of competition in the world of business is fierce (in practically all professions). The trick for any entrepreneur lies in projecting his/her company as more advanced, customer-oriented, sophisticated than its competitors. Mobile apps for business serve this purpose beautifully. Ask yourself something – Company A sends you regular information on seasonal offers and incentive programs on your handset, while Company B delivers the same data, but through post (which often gets delayed). Which one would you choose to purchase things from? That’s right, the one that supports mobile payments.
- No more long payment queues – Mobile app development experts unanimously agree that digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Wallet make shopping a much more enjoyable experience. Most stores have multiple contactless payment terminals/points, where the transaction can be completed. There used to be a time when the term ‘shopping’ was synonymous with standing in long queues, but mobile wallets have changed the scenario completely.
- Heightened security – Even a couple of years back, there were plenty of concerns over mobile payment mechanisms. Although Android wallets did come with NFC (near field communication) support – displayed first in 2011’s Google I/O event – that was not enough to convince too many users worldwide. However, with most digital wallets having 2D barcode scanners, RFID support, and Wireless Application Protocol assurance, sending/receiving payments via mobile networks have become a lot more secure than ever before. As technology has advanced, digital wallets have found greater acceptance.
- Smartphones have become a part of everyday lives – We might forget our wallets at home – but seriously, when was the last time you left your beloved iPhone or Android handset behind? For most of you, the answer would be ‘never’. This has bolstered the popularity of mobile payments big-time. The very idea of using a user-friendly mobile app for payments instead of having to carry heavy wallets have appealed to users worldwide. Buyer convenience has gone up to a whole new level.
- Reduction in dependence on direct card payments – In the United States alone, hundreds of cases are reported every year regarding misuse of credit card data. Shady merchants/hackers have exploited the mag-swipe technology to gain unauthorized access to user’s financial account information. On the other hand, mobile payments are contactless, which totally rules out such risks. Not good news for hackers, but general users certainly don’t mind!
- Bringing down transaction cost figures – Reports from iOS/Android app development communities confirm that mobile payments reduce the total costs associated with every individual transaction. These savings can run into thousands of dollars every year (due to more clients, better customer-service, quicker payments, etc.). It’s hardly surprising that merchant retailers from all over have started to a) set up in-store payment points, and b) actively promote their mobile applications via which payments can be made. In a nutshell, mobile payments have helped businesses to really expand.
- Fees of mobile payment companies are generally lower – In comparison with most credit card companies. Square and LevelUp are two classic examples of mobile applications which have been accepted by merchants – simply because the per-transaction charges are significantly lower than what they are for credit card payments. The app development cost and payment schedules differ from one mobile payment company to another though – and the onus is on merchants to find the one that would be the best-suited for their businesses.
- Transferring funds to fellow buyers – Not every mobile platform supports this yet, but this technology is poised to gain popularity over time. Funds can easily (and more importantly, securely) transferred between friends, family members, colleagues, and the like. If you have that one buddy who keeps on conveniently ‘forgetting’ his/her moneybag after dinners – you can help him/her out by transferring the requisite funds quickly. Do ask for the amount to repaid later, however!
- Keeping track of sales trends and demand levels – Digital wallets and mobile payment apps have helped small businesses (in particular) to monitor sales trends in a smarter, more reliable manner. In addition to facilitating the actual payments process, sellers can now create and maintain records of what’s selling and and what’s not (and manage their store inventory accordingly) with the help of these apps. Since mobile payment apps are helping in better demand management, the quality of service provided by merchants is also getting a lift.
- Connecting with others – Mobile app developers generally include high-utility social networking features in apps meant for making payments. As such, users can always stay in the loop regarding what/where their friends are purchasing, how much they are paying for the stuff, and what special deals and offers have been recently announced by the big brands. Mobile payment platforms have made shopping-in-a-group that much easier.
- Possibility of decentralized payments – This is another big advantage for merchants that mobile payment tools bring to the table. During business exhibitions, conferences and other such offsite corporate events – merchants can offer the contactless payment option, to bolster sales and profitability figures. Mobile payments is not only a solution for one-on-one store purchases, they support decentralized payments. Transactions can be held anywhere, anytime.
Setting up mobile payment systems is a quick and simple process, and they do not involve exorbitant costs. Buyers, of course, have lots to gain by switching over to this new-age mode of making payments (security is no longer an issue either). It took all of 72 hours for Apple Pay to touch the magical 1 million mark of registered cards, and there is considerable anticipation about the upcoming CurrentC tool too (which will be launched probably in the first half of 2015). It’s safe to say that the world is ready to switch over to mobile payments, and enjoy its benefits to the fullest.
With that, AppBoard Tuesday would bid adieu to you for one final time in 2014. Do write in if you feel there has been any major mobile-related news we have missed out on. If you are already a user of Google Wallet and/or Apple Pay, share how your experience has been till date. We love to hear from you, and to learn from you.
We hope each of you had a splendid Christmas and a fantastic Boxing Day. From the entire Teks team, we wish you a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!
ABT returns in 2015…Stay tuned!