Is $75 Billion In 2016 Mobile In-Store Payments Realistic?

At least one research firm thinks in-store mobile payments, mobile wallets usage, is set to explode in the U.S., despite accounts of slow uptake by consumers and crawling installation of NFC terminals by retailers.

The Business Insider Intelligence’s 2016 Mobile Payments Report predicts volume of in-store mobile payments will hit $75 billion this year and $503 billion by 2020. The authors say despite the hurdles of consumer habit and spotty availability, wallets’ benefits to both retailers and shoppers, such as security, speedier checkout process and app integration will boost usage quickly and heavily.

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It Was Hip To Be Square In Portland

Not only can small merchants ride the coming wave of mobile payments, they can make more in tips. That was part of the fun learned from a two-month Square promotion in Portland, Ore., that ended last week. The drive highlighted the company’s NFC/chip readers in a marketing siege of a city chosen for the tactic because of its high implementation of the new Square hardware and its commerce counterculture.

Apple got in on the techfest because its wallet Apple Pay is the other side of the two-way connection Square needs to boost not only wallet use but comfort with wallet use. Apple hosted a merchant tutorial on Apple Pay in one of its stores one day during the Square campaign.

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EMV Really Screwing Up Apple Pay

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when EMV data we receive. As more major retail chains fully accept EMV payments, Apple Pay is being dealt some serious experience setbacks, such as being asked twice for price verification and being asked for fingerprint biometric authentication and then, a few screens later, a signature. Neither of those steps were part of the Apple Pay process until merchants switched on EMV.

To be clear, those time-wasting moves are not part of the Apple Pay process at all, but are superimposed after the Apple Pay transaction is complete and customers think they are done. The reason this is now happening is due to very strict interpretations of EMV rules—and the fact that the nature of the payment mechanism (beyond that it’s contactless) is not always communicated to the POS. Hence, it must assume the worst. When two retailers—Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods–last week made the switch through upgraded Verifone POS terminals, customers used to speedy Apple Pay experiences were literally being called back to the checkout lane to complete the additional keystrokes. Before, once Apple Pay’s screen said “done” and displayed an animated checkmark, they were free to leave. Not so in an EMV world.

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Visa’s Quick Chip EMV Move, Banking On Perception To Trump Reality

Using the Electronic Transaction Association’s TRANSACT 16 event as a backdrop, Visa on Tuesday (April 19) rolled out Quick Chip for EMV, which the leading card brand described in a news release as being “a technology enhancement that optimizes EMC chip processing and speeds up checkout times.” Unfortunately, Quick Chip isn’t a technology enhancement nor does it optimize chip processing and it certainly doesn’t speed up checkout times. Other than that, the lead of Visa’s news release got it right.

What Quick Chip, however, does do is potentially just as powerful an aid to EMV—or quite destructive to EMV adoption, depending on who is talking—as what Visa claims. All that it does is allow the shopper to remove the card from the card reader much more quickly than current deployments permit. Given that the reader’s retention of the card until the full transaction is complete is behind a very high percentage of both merchant and consumer EMV complaints, this could be seen as a very good thing. Let’s break this down. For almost all transactions, the Quick Chip change won’t accelerate the total transaction time at all. The customer still needs to stand there until all products have scanned and the cashier has been given the final transaction approval. Therefore, from the merchant perspective of “how many shoppers can I push through the line in an hour?” this change is unlikely to help at all. But like so much of what happens in retail, reality never stands a chance against perception.

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ExxonMobil Now Accepts ApplePay, But Rejects NFC. Bad Move

Wanting to avoid having to purchase and install NFC-friendly card readers at its stations, ExxonMobil has opted to use ApplePay but only as an in-app method, from within the petro company’s own app. Although it might make short-term economic sense from ExxonMobil’s perspective, it may be a big hit with over the long-term and it could damage some consumer perceptions of NFC payment convenience.

ApplePay has several solid user-experience advantages and cashiers at retailers that accept a lot of ApplePay transactions (think Whole Foods, TraderJoe’s or McDonald’s) typically find it the fastest payment experience. The service will be offered initially at 6,000 Exxon and Mobil gas stations in 46 states, with an additional 2,000 stores slated to join by this summer.

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The Confusing Side Of Chase Pay

When Chase rolled out Chase Pay late last year, it risked customer confusion because it was adding a new payment mechanism to the Chase mobile packages already offered. Chase customers already have a Chase Visa card and, based on Chase’s recommendation, more than a million of those cards are already loaded into Apple Pay. Now Chase Pay will be automatically added to the Chase mobile app that already has 21 million active Chase customers, which guarantees there will be a significant overlap with the users of Apple Pay. The goal of Chase Pay is to have all 21 million Chase customers use Chase Pay with their existing Chase-issued credit, debit, and prepaid cards for in-store payments, which of course means they will need to learn how to use Chase Pay.

Cardholders will retain all the same rewards and consumer protections using Chase Pay as they have with their existing cards. Currently the Chase web site identifies the primary benefit as merchant discounts. But Chase customers that already have Chase cards provisioned into Apple Pay or Android Pay will confront an impossibly confusing choice relative to acceptance. Since Chase Pay will have a limited acceptance footprint that is different than the limited footprint associated with the NFC-based competitors, it strikes Mercator that a customer will simply become even more unsure what mobile app is accepted at which merchant locations and will revert instead to the tried and true physical card.

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Deloitte: Ignorance Isn’t Bliss. It’s Killing Mobile Payments

On Wednesday (Dec. 9), Deloitte released a major mobile report and concluded that mobile payments is suffering from a payments industry self-inflicted wound: an almost criminal lack of shopper and store associate education about mobile payments.

This is one of those good news/bad news situations. The good news is if the payments industry leaders act smart, this problem can not only be solved, but reversed. Consumer and store employee education will sharply boost mobile payments usage—and that will on top of a continual influx of new mobile shoppers as more people upgrade to NFC-friendly smartphones. The bad news is—when was the last time you saw a lot of payments industry leaders acting smart?

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