Does Your Branded Card Matter in a Mobile Transaction?

In Insights, Security, Technology by Paul Brandner

While a Cupertino audience ooo-ed and ah-ed over Apple’s digital wallet reveal in September, marketers in the payments industry breathed a little sigh of relief. Not because Apple had FINALLY stepped into the NFC payments game—we all knew that was coming—but because of how the Apple Wallet is designed.

by Paul Brandner
Director of Marketing

There had been much speculation that Apple Pay would be wrapped up in the old iTunes mode: the user adds a single card, which is never visible during the payment process. This model thwarts the mission of every bank to keep their card top of wallet.Instead, Apple partnered with various financial institutions, which means users open their Wallet to as many choices as they have cards. They can rifle through and choose to pay by, let’s say, a Chase Visa or a Citi MasterCard or an AMEX—just as they’d choose plastic from a trusty leather wallet.It was a clear statement from Apple: brands do matter in mobile transactions.The subtext: there’s a huge opportunity for smart brands to step up and make their mark with NFC mobile payments on an Android.

Apple’s customers may be influential, but Android still has majority of market share. And it’s a market that’s still up for grabs. Android’s open NFC platform means anyone can get in the game – especially with an open solution like Host Card Emulation – and so far not even Google has emerged as a clear winner in the mobile wallet space.

There’s still room for a brand to create an amazing digital wallet. If you can own the mobile wallet, why wouldn’t you?

Not only do you secure more of the financial pie by eliminating middlemen, you also ensure your branded card isn’t mixed in with a handful of competitors’. You have the freedom to add loyalty features specific to your product and, perhaps most importantly, you have direct access to all the user data inherent in the digital purchasing process.

The financial service provider who does it best will win the wallets of Android users—but if Apple teaches us anything you’ll first have to win hearts. I see three keys to getting it right:

  • Listen to Customers: Hit the pavement and talk to your users. Find out what they need and how they purchase. In Canada, PC Financial is a great example of a customer-focused brand. They’ve focused on low monthly bank fees and practical, usable rewards—exactly what their users want. The result is strong allegiance and positive perception: exactly the groundwork needed to step into the mobile space.
  • Invest in UX: No matter how many users download your mobile wallet, adoption will depend largely on an amazing user experience. You can’t cut any corners when it comes to creating a beautiful, streamlined interface—users will notice. Westpac New Zealand is leading the charge in progressive mobile UX—investing in augmented reality tools that make payments as enjoyable as they are simple.
  • Build Emotional Connections: This is where Apple can teach us a lot. Apple users care deeply about the brand—it’s part of their identity. Google’s loyalty levels can’t compare. Most of your customers have been banking with you much longer than they’ve had a smartphone. Do they trust your brand? Enough to change their behaviour?

If brand matters, then invest in the best possible brand experience. The mobile payments game will be won on loyalty and trust. I can’t wait to see who comes out on top.