More than half of all Americans own Smartphones. And this holiday season as busy shoppers got out their lists; whether they were headed to crowded malls or navigating the web for the perfect deal—one thing was certain. Their gadgets were with them. It is increasingly clear that mobile devices are beginning to impact retail in a huge way. With more consumers browsing, comparing, and purchasing by mobile phone this year than any other means, retail companies are beginning to react to their customer’s demands by reaching out to them where they spend the most time—their mobile devices.
While customers are enticed and swarmed by retailers via text promotions and email blasts daily—this new technology is one for the taking and it will revolutionize the way you look at your wallet.
You might think of your wallet as a traditional accessory used to house and safe keep all your precious goods. Cash, credit cards, driver’s license, gift cards, reward cards, and the occasional embarrassing family photo. It’s bulky, it’s unorganized, and it keeps growing every year making it harder for you to find what you really need when you’re next in line at the register. And let’s face it nothing is more precious than your time.
Lastly, let’s not forget that your lovely leather wallet is also completely insecure. Just about anyone can get a hold of it and easily burn through your cash, drain your bank account, credit, and worse your identity. Despite all this insecurity, transactions are still predominately based off cash or check.
This is where the cutting edge technology of the mobile wallet comes in.
To break it down, mobile or digital wallets are apps that enable users to make 1 click payments via mobile phone, because the user’s information is already stored in a secure cloud. This can include purchasing items online or using a smartphone to purchase something at a store without ever needing your physical card or making direct contact. Instantly the hassles of locating your credit card or reentering digit after digit for online purchases are diminished. It’s convenient. It’s simple. But it can seem a bit intangible.
Here’s a more in depth look at how they work.
Digital wallets will run differently from app to app depending on the provider and developer. Some wallet services will require a simple click for payment while others will require a pin number. Bottom line, digital wallets will pay for your stuff, much faster than traditional methods. Not only can they be used to purchase items but also to store things such as bus passes, concert tickets, coupons, and gift cards. Consumers benefit from the protection and convenience they offer and merchants are protected against fraud while also allowing them to sell goods faster.
There are two different types of digital wallets. Client-sided and server-sided. Client-sided wallets are maintained by the user. Information is downloaded and a program is installed in which the user can input their personal information, which is all stored on the user’s personal computer. When the consumer purchases something on the web, on a compatible web site, the wallet is able to input the personal information so the user won’t have to. Using this type of digital wallet has its benefits. However, client-sided wallets differ depending on the software and developer. It is also monitored by the user which leaves room for some minor aggravation.
Server-side wallets differ in the fact that the user’s data is not stored by their own personal computers but is stored and maintained by large companies. Visa’s V.me digital wallet is a great example. In this case all user data is store by Visa on the company’s secure computers.
If you’re wondering if digital wallets will only support certain types of cards, you’re in for a surprise. Visa’s V.me for example, can store data for you from many other credit card companies, such as Discover and Master Card. They also maintain your e-wallet account, dismissing the need of a physical card which can be stolen. This is beneficial for both the consumer and the retailer, who deal with a significant less amount of credit fraud.
While it is evident that this ground breaking technology can definitely spare you minutes of fumbling with your credit cards at your online cart, digital wallets take it a step further and turn completely mobile at store fronts too.
With more Smartphones being equipped with NFC (near-field communication) chips, which are an important component to the digital wallet movement, it is estimated that more than half of Smartphones will have NFC technology by 2015.
So what is NFC? It’s wireless communication with short range. And that means mobility to pay for almost anything at a store with just a tap of your phone to a compatible POS terminal. A great example of this is Google Wallet. Google is one of the leading technology apps using the power of NFC. All user’s credit card data (reward cards and gift cards too) are stored on Google’s servers (not your phone).
The dilemma that arises when using digital wallets is the merchant acceptance to this new technology. So while, you are able to join for example, MasterCard’s digital wallet MasterPass, in order to take full advantage of the technology, retailers and online merchants need to add the Master Pass API to their site or make POS systems compatible to the technology; giving the shopper the option to pay with MasterPass. The problem is not the interest in the technology but that many merchants are not equipped with the technology.
However, as this technology evolves, more and more companies want in on the action and are competing for a monopoly. Apple Pay for instance, is one of the most buzzed about digital wallet payment systems out today and its making waves—which is good news for users because other companies will feel compelled to compete and perfect the infrastructure. Apple Pay lets people pay merchants using their iPhones. All major credit cards are accepted and over 220,000 merchants are on board.
Alpha Card Services is excited to venture out into this new technology. We are NFC ready and compatible with Apple Pay and Google Wallet. Our Mobile Payment Processing and Point of Sale Systems are designed with merchants and customers in mind providing the best technology, mobile solutions, reliable performance, and affordability. To learn more visit us at http://www.alphacardservices.com/
So despite all this innovative and exciting technology what’s still causing people digital wallet woes?
The fact is that regardless, the payment method the technology still has a ways to go and has not convinced many consumers to trade in their good old fashioned leather friends for such new technology.
Privacy and Security will always cause concern for the general population. People are uneasy to accept a technology that seems more concept than reality at the moment. It’s easy to imagine how many things could go wrong when personal accounts, life savings, and credit cards are thrown into the mix. The complexity of the digital age is also keeping a few hesitant of this wireless transition.
Despite these problems, experts say that it’s estimated that digital wallets could become a $90 billion industry by 2017. However, before reaching that assessment, merchants must overcome some hurdles as with any new technology. Until then, our traditional wallets will continue to weigh down our pockets and purses. However, the growth of the mobile wallet cannot be ignored as it could determine the form of currency, which will be used in the future.