Here in the Global Payments Integrated blog-production nerve center, we (me) have been doing some research on mobile wallets and learning that all the indicators point to the fact that mobile wallets - Apple Pay™, the newly-rebranded Google Pay™ and Samsung Pay™, have not taken off as many people thought and hoped they would. The theories on why these tech giants’ mobile wallet products haven’t seen wider adoption are everywhere on the web; or at least everywhere I go to read articles about mobile wallets. That’s convenient.
I don’t know what the main factor is retarding adoption, but I’m guessing it’s not just one. Like any complex issue, the answer is equally as complex; but I have a theory all my own.
Convenience. That’s it – one simple word.
To expand on that, let me illustrate with an example - a tale of my average trip to the grocery store. After negotiating the normal parking lot hazards, I start perusing the almost-endless combinations of protein, fruits and vegetables, bread (that I shouldn’t eat), dairy and coffee (we can’t forget about coffee). With my armful of items, I head for the checkout stand and wait my turn for the self-checkout machine.
I hurriedly scan my items while I feel the patrons behind me mentally willing me to check out faster. I scan my items and reach for my wallet. This is where convenience comes into play. Nothing prior to his moment - not the crowded parking lot, not the sugar-fueled children, not the aisle-blocking shopping carts - has been particularly convenient. This is where I get to choose what’s easiest for me.
I reach for my wallet and I have a choice - do I double-click my phone’s home button to launch my “wallet”, choose which card I want to use, verify it’s me with my thumb print and then hold the phone up to the card reader? Or do I simply dip my card into the reader? (Editor’s note: at this point you may think this is a case against mobile wallets, but it’s not. Spoiler alert – plot twist ahead).
One more tale regarding payment convenience and mobile wallets. I recently needed to reload some money onto my loyalty account using my favorite coffee chain’s app. Again – choices. Here I can pull out my payment card, enter the card info into the app and then authorize the loading, or I can simply click the mobile wallet icon within the app and choose the amount I wanted to load to my account. The choice here was as simple here as it was at the grocery store.
Payments are, like many things in life, about convenience. The fact that I can choose from several payment options during most of my commercial transactions is AWESOME. When I want to use my mobile wallet, it’s there for me. When I want to dip my card, it’s my choice. When merchants make it possible for me to pay the way I feel like paying, it’s convenient.
Earlier this month, the Korean automaker Hyundai announced that it has signed agreements that will allow drivers to pay for certain items through the car’s infotainment system including gas, meals and parking through specific apps. Other car manufactures have announced similar efforts. Combine these innovations with the fact that app developers are increasingly adding mobile wallet functionality to their apps on your phones and you see that convenience is an important trend in payments that we will likely see expand in the near future.