While I remain skeptical that mobile payments will enjoy the kind of skyrocketing usage some analysts have predicted, some key pieces are undeniably beginning to fall into place to pave the way for growth in the area. Verifone’s vow to include NFC in all its point-of-sale terminals will go a long way toward spurring retailer adoption (which so far has been nearly nonexistent), and handset manufacturers are finally buying in and beginning to package NFC in their smartphones.
But simply providing the technology for mobile payments isn’t enough — the industry still needs to offer truly compelling reasons for consumers to reach for their phones rather than their (real) wallets. The key to that will likely be in developing mobile applications that consumers actually want to use as they shop and conduct transactions.
But how do they do that? In my weekly update at GigaOM Pro, I examine several features that could entice users to make a mobile payment rather than a traditional one. Here are a few:
- Integrated money management: A good mobile wallet app should enable users to track any account tied to the app, including checking and credit card accounts. This could even help users manage their finances by tracking their spending and alerting them when their bank accounts are low — or credit card balances high. That kind of functionality will force developers to work closely with financial institutions to create ultra-secure apps, but those kinds of measures are already becoming commonplace in this era of mobile banking with Mint and bank-specific apps.
- Product and price information: Like ShopSavvy and other offerings, a payment app should help users find more information about a product by scanning the barcode (or by tapping a phone on an NFC chip embedded in the packaging). And it should sense location via GPS (if a user chooses to allow it) that tells users if another store nearby is selling the same item for a lower price.
- Airtight security: Any new payment technology is sure to be greeted with skepticism by some consumers, so the mobile wallet must be even more secure than credit cards. Not only must financial information be ironclad, the app should be able to track purchases against the location to ensure that users are actually where purchases are being made.
For more thoughts on how to get consumers to reach for their phones at the retail counter, read the full post (subscription required).
Image courtesy of: flickr user whiteafrican.