Mobile Commerce: The Year of the Mobile Wallet? Better Luck Next Year
The concept of a mobile wallet isn't new. After all, Google Wallet has been live for a year-and-a-half and prior to that there have been a number of startup payment systems in the marketplace. What's changed in the marketplace is that many tech industry experts and tastemakers are proclaiming 2013 the year of the mobile wallet. Here are the reasons why:
- Smartphones have continued to become the most personal and integral device in consumers’ day-to-day lives. The consumption of apps and operating system base features like Google Now and Siri provide so much convenience to consumers that the adoption of mobile wallets has been both seamless and organic.
- The proliferation of loyalty schemes, cards and discount programs has made it difficult for consumers to manage. The mobile wallet is providing consumers with timely, location-relevant reminders about discounts and promotions for the services they belong to.
- Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, smartphones have caught up with mobile wallet technology. We're past the trial phase; mobile wallets are now extremely reliable and beneficial to consumers’ shopping experiences.
Players in the Mobile Wallet Category
iOS Passbook: Perhaps the most talked about feature of the iPhone 5 was Passbook. Passbook allows users to store virtual cards, tickets, coupons and offers in iOS devices — a feature that would even make George Costanza blush because it streamlines the payment process and allows for less waste.
Passbook is a stand-alone feature, but it can also be used in tandem with other marketing tactics such as the following:
- SMS reminders to target consumers about relevant sales based on what cards are in their wallet;
- alerts users of their card balances and expiring services; and
- vendors can automatically provide new coupons to customers when they're in close proximity of their store.
5th Finger Account Manager Christina Park said the following in regards to Passbook: "The fact that Apple had a feature like Passbook as part of its iPhone 5 release validated to the masses that mobile wallets are not a trend. I personally had clients calling me immediately after the feature was announced about how best to integrate Passbook into their mobile couponing programs. A number of these same clients were hesitant to use existing mobile wallet technology. Apple helped … validation was the difference."