More than any other consumer product, smart phones are not only the quickest growing device in history, they are the most ubiquitous, says Horace Dediu, a mobile blogger and market analyst. Dediu points out that the devices, unlike bags, wallets—even house and car keys—never leave our sides.
This begs the question: Why aren’t all retailers using smart phones to conduct business? Despite the convenience and ease of the devices, retailers continue to conduct their business in the traditional, paper heavy, costly way business has for decades, with paper, cash registers, cash, checks, and debit or credit cards, Dediu points out.
According to a Business Insider report, everything is about to change and the “old dream of the digital wallet is coming true in a very mobile-led fashion.” In fact, the report indicated that year-end 2012 revealed that about 7.9 million United States consumers used a so-called “near-field communications (NFC) compatible system.” NFCs include QR codes, Google Wallet, Visa Wallet, MasterCard’s PayPass, and an array of other payment processing apps. In fact, credit card readers including, Square, I Love Velvet, and PayPal processed more than $10 billion in mobile payments last year, alone.
Change is certainly coming. A recent Gartner report predicted that mobile payment transactions, worldwide, will account for more than $235 billion in 2013, a 44 percent rise from 2011. And, those retailers who have entered the digital age and who utilize mobile for transactions have benefited, according to the Huffington Post. For example Starbucks, a leader in using mobile for its in-store payments, propelled most of the $500 million worth of U.S. mobile transactions last year. Apple also just announced it would start selling Square’s mobile registers this month. The Apple move toward “distributed, low-cost mobile-based transactions,” is seen as a huge change, according to the Huffington Post from its prior central, single, point of sale (POS) model.
A number of mobile payment choices have hit the market since 2012, such as the iOS Passbook, the Wallet by Samsung, and Google’s Wallet. Each provides some advanced, inclusive benefits and options such as the ability to store digital coupons, loyalty cards, event tickets, and travel tickets, all in one secure location. Passbook offers a geo-fencing technology that individualizes marketing, such as promotions and other ads and deals, prompting deals at optimum times and locations, according to the Huffington Post. The changes are a far cry from the old—and physical, paper-heavy—methods of rewarding consumers
To keep up, the Huffington Post suggests that retailers concentrate on the user experience to make the most of mobile POS systems. The interface should be flexible, yet strong, and very user-friendly. There should be no disruptions, complexity, or limitations to consumers who should always have the ability to purchase what they want, when they want. Of course, security should be paramount whenever finances are involved. By the way, the issue of security is lessened with smart phones, which operate like powerful pocket computers and eliminate that highly vulnerable magnetic strip.
The time is right, notes the Huffington Post. Consumers are seeking faster more secure POS options and welcome the convenience mobile presents. Retailers who provide mobile POS now will be able to offer their consumers speed, security, dependability, and convenience in an innovative package that eases the checkout process. What’s more, they will be able to offer all of this innovation ahead of their competition.
Farrell, Joseph. The Future of Mobile Payments and What it Means for Retail; Huffington Post. July 19, 2013.