The wild frontier of mobile wallets is far more than just paying at the register with a phone. But while the technology is ready, it’s the retailers — perhaps more so than the customers — who need to get on board.
That’s the advice from Judy Chan, who is senior product marketing manager at Urban Airship, a mobile engagement platform. In a survey of 1,000 U.S. and 1,000 U.K. smartphone owners, Urban Airship found that while many consumers have used mobile wallets, they want more out of them.
Mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay allow users to use a smartphone or smartwatch to pay for in-store purchases with a credit card or debit card. In addition, users can receive and store content such as event tickets, boarding passes, coupons and loyalty cards — which translates into an opportunity for merchants.
The survey found that more than half of consumers had used mobile wallets in the past three months; among Millennials, that number reached 67 percent. Those with household incomes greater than $60,000 were more likely to have used one.
That said, 84 percent of Millennials and 79 percent of those with above-median incomes were more likely to use mobile payments if loyalty rewards and discounts were automatically applied. The top mobile wallet items that consumers used the most were loyalty cards, coupons and order delivery updates.
“When paying with your phone means never forgetting a coupon, missing out on rewards or fumbling at the register, it provides consumers with a compelling reason to go all-in on mobile payments,” Chan said.
She said the paying with a phone was similar to paying with a card, but the potential for points or coupons makes the prospect more enticing. “The larger issue is more customer-centric than transaction-focused,” Chan said. “How we pay for things is an ingrained consumer behavior, and pulling out your phone rather than your credit or debit card to pay isn’t easier or faster. So it needs to be more rewarding.”
The survey found that respondents often forget to bring paper coupons or let coupons expire. Mobile wallets can, for example, send expiration reminders or automatically display a coupon when a shopper is near a store. And while mobile apps also provide this functionality, Chan said the big difference is that mobile wallets expand a retailer’s potential reach to all customers with a smartphone, as these come pre-installed with Apple Pay or Android Pay. “The barriers to get someone to install a loyalty or coupon are much, much lower than getting them to install your app,” she said. “Loyalty cards and coupons are the items consumers want most in their mobile wallets.”
To add a perk to a digital wallet, a shopper can click a link or an “Add to Wallet” button, which might be shared, for example, in a retailer’s digital channel. A customer can also scan a QR code to add a wallet pass from printed materials like in-store signage, said an Urban Airship spokeswoman.
This week, Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook said “tens of millions” of people had used Apple Pay at stores and in apps. He said there are more than 11 million contactless-ready locations in the countries in which Apple Pay is available, including three million in the U.S.
Samsung Pay works with most credit card terminals, including magnetic stripe, NFCs and EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa). MasterCard’s Masterpass is available in 33 markets globally, with plans to expand to three more by the end of the year.
“Loyalty programs are something most businesses are already doing, and they can be made much more effective and exciting through mobile wallets,” Chan said. “Business can now easily gain a natural and desired mobile connection to every customer with a smartphone — which is most of them.”