The payment industry is an ever changing one, from once just paying with the simplicity of cash or check to now having your cellphone replace the credit cards in your pocket, mobile payments are no longer a trend but now a staple amongst consumers. With the popularity of mobile payments continuing to rise, what does the future hold for this highly sought-after feature? Oren Levy, CEO of Zooz (www.zooz.com), a technology company designed to help merchants maximize their payments results, is helping shed some light on things that have changed over the last year, what to expect for mobile payments in 2015 and what retailers should keep in mind when moving forward in the payments sector.
Over the last few years there has been a transformation in the way consumers conduct their payments. No one would have pictured ten years ago that in order to pay for something, all you needed was a smartphone and a fingerprint. In the year 2014 there was a growing appreciation for near field communication (NFC), a set of ideas and technologies that enable smartphones to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into proximity of one another.
“This was something that everyone was looking forward to, this standard being adopted and that did not really catch on in 2013,” said Levy. “But with Apple Pay, all of a sudden everyone was talking about NFC. This was a development that was quite significant with the play of one very big company, so NFC has become relevant again.” Apple Pay has changed the game when it comes to mobile payments because they have concentrated on some of the most important elements: customer experience, making it easy to use and reliable”, said Levy.
“I’ve tried other devices, apps and platforms, but it just becomes too much of a hassle. It’s too complicated, and as a consumer I do not want to undergo all of that process simply for a payment, when I can just pull out my credit card and swipe. There was not any added value for me as a consumer to use it,” said Levy. “Apple pay makes it very simple, very smooth, very natural to use my phone for that payment and I think that is definitely important; the understanding that the customer is first, is more important than anything else.”
People are gaining more confidence when it comes to using their mobile devices when paying for items and that is something that will not change throughout 2015. Whether it is credit card usage, in store features, or browsing, mobile payment options are here to stay. “There will be a continuation of what I call ‘couch shopping,’ where people sit on their couch with their smartphones and tablets and do online shopping,” said Levy. “This will definitely continue, not just for browsing purposes but actually for shopping and cross border. More and more people have been shopping online, more and more people are using mobile devices to do so and that is not something that is restricted to a certain geography.”
Cross border shopping has grown over the last few years whether it be for sending or receiving goods. More and more companies are realizing there is a huge opportunity available to them overseas, said Levy, places like China, Russia and South America. “That is a trend that is simply a continuation of the momentum we have been generating the past few years. I think I have been seeing more and more companies interested in getting more global coverage; if companies used to think domestically they are now realizing there is a huge opportunity overseas, especially an American company. The cross border commerce really has taken off over the past year or so.”
With the mobile payments option at its peak, retailers need to make sure they are utilizing it in the best way possible. Mobile payments are just one extension of what retailers should really be thinking about: Omni channel. No matter where a person is trying to shop from, they will still be a consumer, so retailers need to focus on reaching their customers on all levels, not just through payment methods.
“We are in an era in which everybody logs onto Amazon, where the website adapts and changes according to your tastes, your shopping habits and your browsing history. In store experience basically remains the same every time you walk into a Gap store,” said Levy. “Merchants or retailers should be collecting more data, should understand what is going on in store and online and merge the two together to get better insights about their consumers.”
In order to succeed retailers need to keep in mind that it always has to be about the customer first, noted Levy. “It should be all about the consumer experience and how you improve your loyalty, improve personalization. What you are offering to the consumer,” Levy commented, “that is what it is all about.”