Every retailer and financial services company wants to let customers handle their money online. Now that the field of mobile payment platforms has become so competitive, the difference between success and failure is just as much up to executives as it is to developers.
Now that well over half of American adults own a smartphone, according to Pew, many of the simple, everyday tools we once relied on are becoming obsolete. Alarm clocks, maps, and address books are all things of the past, thanks to the endless possibilities opened by our phones.
But while consumers are eager to adopt many of their phone’s features, some have not yet been able to permeate our daily routine — chief among them being mobile payment and digital wallets.
Since companies like PayPal pioneered digital payment in the early 90s, multiple tech companies have tried to make cash and credit cards obsolete. Everyone from Apple to Google has tried their hand at competing in this market, but the results have been mixed — and it appears the secret is in a business model that fits your mobile payment strategy.
An Unconvincing Model
According to PC Magazine, the Google Wallet has been a failure so far not because of some inherent design flaw in the program itself, but because of the goals Google initially set for it and the tactics it used to achieve them.
The company’s whole business model involves learning enough about people to target them with the most specific ads possible, but the tech giant ran into trouble when it tried to force any bank that wanted to participate in the program to do the same thing.
Through their comprehensive model and customer loyalty incentives, Starbucks is innovating ways of getting people to use a digital product, even when it doesn’t happen to be the most convenient method of payment.
The key to Starbucks’ success is in creating a payment system that both benefits retail consumers and encourages customers to return to this singular brand. While the convenience of paying for coffee on your smartphone is one thing, actually saving customers money on their purchases is something else entirely.
When you also consider the app’s ability to automatically refill your available balance, you begin to see the makings of a highly successful mobile platform.
Knowing the Market
What’s clear from the comparison of Google and Starbucks’ respective platforms is that, if the model behind your digital payment platform does little more than add another option for your customers to pay you, it’s not likely to succeed.
Either your payment app needs to actively advance your company’s stated goals, or your model needs to change to accommodate mobile devices.
Consumers are still hesitant to make the transfer to digital payments, and it’s because of this fact that developers need to make products that offer customers brand-specific benefits, constantly working to add incentives without turning off their audience.
As we’ve seen through the smartphone’s short history, consumers are willing and even enthusiastic about digitizing certain aspects of their lives. But with a subject as sensitive as personal finance, brands need to create a thoughtful and educated business model if they want to succeed in this still-growing industry.