Tuesday Nov 04, 2014

The Payment Experience

I've used Softcard (fka Isis) before, and it works just fine.  But ApplePay is a much faster experience, taking just two steps instead of four or five.  I've not used CurrentC yet since its still in pilot, but I understand its similar to the Starbucks approach, taking at least three steps.  But these companies have different goals for their mobile payment platforms, and thus have different experiences.

I believe Softcard's goal is to profit from offers made via their application. Not only do they handle payment, but they also link consumers to coupons and deals from retailers.  This helps retailers drive demand, and helps consumers save money.  This means the experience must appeal to both retailers and consumers.

ApplePay, on the other hand, does not address coupons and offers.  Its experience is streamlined to appeal to consumers, with little regard to the needs of retailers (although "fast" probably appeals to both parties).  While the banks are currently covering Apple's fees, those fees may eventually be added to existing card fees that retailers pay.  This is why retailers are less excited about ApplePay.

And that's where MCX enters the picture.  Members are refusing to accept ApplePay in the hopes that CurrentC will eventually take off.  CurrentC's goal is, first and foremost, to minimize card fees.  Their second goal is to support the retailer's marketing activities with coupons, offers, and loyalty programs.

Then there are lots of other emerging payment methods popping up everywhere.  The latest is MasterCard's trial with the Nymi wristband.  I mentioned the ApplePay two-step which is "tap and touch."  What if you could drop the second step?  This wristband uses heartbeat authentication instead of a fingerprint, so you can simply tap to pay.  I guess I'll have to trust the science on that one.  If it works, I'm guessing the technology will go into smartwatches.

Of course none of these approaches really changes anything for online purchases, which have been the same payment experience since the start. What concerns me is that as we tighten security in stores, fraud is just going to move online.  (Reminds me of treating my yard for fire ants only to have my neighbors complain about the sudden ant problem.)  I guess we'll cross that bridge next year.

Thursday Jul 14, 2011

My Favorite Mobile Payment App

My favorite mobile payment app comes from a start-up in Austin (the best place to live when its not summer).  Ever go to a bar or restaurant and have to wait forever for the check?  Then once you get the check, you have to wait for them to take your credit card which kills another 10 minutes?  (Those of you with Chip-and-PIN can skip that last step -- count your blessings.)  Well, Tabbedout (I'm not crazy about the name) has a solution for you.

When you first sit down, use the free Tabbedout application on your iPhone or Android phone to located the establishment via GPS.  Select it and a code is displayed that you show your waiter barmaid server.  That code syncs your phone and the POS so you can see any items added to your tab.  When you're ready to leave, simply add a tip and checkout using a pre-configured credit card.  No waiting.  No paper.  No mistakes.

The integration seems fairly simple, so multiple POS systems will work.  The trick is exposing POS transactions in a secure manner since the connection between the phone and the POS is over the internet.  The card number is actually encrypted and stored on your phone, requiring a passcode to access it.  That way Tabbedout never sees it nor does any of the restaurant staff.  Seems like a pretty secure approach to me.

This is another example of an everyday annoyance being solved in a way that benefits consumers and merchants.  I hope it catches on quickly.

Tuesday Apr 12, 2011

Is NFC Too Slow?

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Friday Sep 24, 2010

An Alternative Payment Approach

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Sunday Apr 12, 2009

Pay at the Table

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