At some point, every new business has to address the basic question of how customers will pay for their product or service. Although the traditional payment choices are still useful, here are some questions they raise:
- Checks. Come on, don’t checks belong in a museum?
- Cash. Do you really want to carry stacks of paper in your wallet?
- Credit/debit cards. Do you want to pay bank fees, and deal with potential fraud issues and resulting headaches?
If the answers to any of those questions are “no,” you may want to consider an additional option: mobile payments. Of course, that raises the old chicken-and-egg question: Shouldn’t you wait until consumers or business-to-business customers are regularly using mobile “currency” and carrying so-called “e-wallets?”
With the introduction of Apple Pay in the new iPhone 6, that day may be closer at hand. But Apple, Google Wallet and other players in the mobile payments field should focus on four main drivers of consumers dropping cash, checks and plastic in favor of the cloud:
1. Businesses investing in POS terminals that accept NFC and other popular mobile payment technologies. Consumers won’t adopt mobile payments unless they can use it across a vast range of merchants. Any electronic payment system needs to be widely accepted. Apple’s push of Apple Pay with major retailers like Whole Foods, Staples, Macy’s and Walgreens on board, is the right move in that direction.
2. Loyalty programs. Cash-back and rewards programs are a big reason why so many people still use credit cards over any other form of payment. So the new mobile payment systems must also provide an incentive for consumer repeat use.
3. Peer-to-peer functionality. Consumers should be able to just click on a friend or relative’s name to send them money. Owe somebody money for a ticket they bought online? No problem! Want to send some funds to your son or daughter in college? Easy!
4. Minimizing fraud. Anyone who has had to cope with stolen or lost credit cards will be interested in adopting a mobile payment system that provides a more secure solution, but consumers now worry that their mobile wallets may be as vulnerable as their leather ones. After all, a phone is easily snatched. Any new system must be demonstrably secure, whether it’s Apple Pay’s fingerprint ID system or some other method.
Consumers and businesses, large and small, will clamor to come onboard the first mobile payment system that succeeds on all four of the above fronts.