The last few weeks have been really interesting if you are following the ongoing battlefield of mobile payment. Paypal, Square notably have made big announcements on their vision the future of payment. Behind all these players, there is an elephant in the room that doesn’t say much: Amazon.
Online retail as been making constant progress and seems to have a lot of room to progress even further more.
Mobile Commerce is “lifting off” (to take Mery Meeker’s wording)
More importantly, search while shopping in retail stores is becoming a tool for price transparency and retail competition. The saying that Amazon has the best showroom of all retailers is becoming a reality. Search and its proxy for products (barcode scanning and Prime) is becoming the new mobile checkout. No stop at the counter, no cashier, no paper receipt:
Note: the same survey also indicated that 50% of USA smartphone users have used their smartphones to find a nearby store. So while mobile Internet is helping drive foot traffic to local stores, it is also helping make pricing info more transparent for the consumers
=> Snap & Deliver
On the other hand, the recent update to Square Card Case as well as Paypal’s proposal for its future of payment show what I think is viable alternative for retailers.
With Card Case, Square offers one of the only (the only?) fully integrated experience from the retailer to the customer. They control the “wallet” experience, the POS experience as well as the entire data chain in the middle: payment information / product information and all relevant metadata around it. It is therefore significant that their first upgrade took the core decision of making the payment disappear.
“This is truly the most seamless way to pay,” said Megan Quinn, director of products for Square. “It becomes more about the interaction between customer and merchant and that relationship rather than the actual act of the payments. We want to make payments fade away. People don’t appreciate that; they enjoy making a purchase and feeling like a regular at places they shop.”
Paypal offers a similar vision, even if it seems less realistic in its Future of Payment vision (see at 1:45)
Rumours have also been surfacing that Apple could propose a similar checkout system soon. BGR has a detailed “exclusive” on the future solution: New Apple Store app launches Thursday; here’s how it will change Apple’s retail operations
“Here is how this will work: after you find the item you want to buy, like an accessory, you launch the Apple Store app on your iOS device and there will be an option to buy a product in the store. You scan the product with the camera on your device in the app, click purchase, and it will charge whatever credit card is associated to your Apple ID. You then just walk out of the store.”
=> Pick and Go
Apple has slowly transformed its in-store experience toward less square footage for retail and more for support / classes / events. With Apple Genius running around with Ipod equipped for Credit Card acceptance, they seem to be able to combine delivering the Apple experience while maintaining a strong retail activity. The other possibility to buy online and pickup in-store should help drive foot traffic.
For businesses that are facing increasing competition from online retailers via the mobile web, this seems like a possible solution for their future in-store experience and mobile payment solutions.