Day one of the Mobile Transaction & Commerce Summit, (#mtsc12) brought together an array of speakers from all over the world from sectors in retail, banking, security and app development.
First to present was Deborah McWhinney, Chief Operating Officer, Global Enterprise Payments, Citigroup, where she placed continuous emphasis on simplicity and ease of use as the core components to any successful commerce platform.
"In North America, consumers are increasingly using their phones to drive purchasing decisions" stated McWhinney, with "Seventy-nine per cent of smartphone owners using their phone for shopping related activities, 74% of smart phone shoppers making a purchase as a result of using their phone while 70% use their phone while in the process of shopping in store".
Surprisingly, in many cases early adopters of mobile coupons are preaching to the converted and there were words of caution to not contribute to the growing concern of "offer fatigue", which is wearing consumers out and contributing to a numbness to respond to mobile deals. McWhinney observed that in the 26 to 34 year old demographic, close to half of consumers were going to buy your product regardless of being given a mobile discount, meaning that you simply blew your margin.
However, from the 18 to 25 year old demographic, 48% were motivated to purchase based on mobile deals, with 32% falling in the going-to-buy-regardless category. Indeed, a strategy for success is in its infancy and fine-tuning is ongoing.
McWhinney sees an enormous business opportunity in mobile commerce and shared that of the 6.9 billion people on the planet, 5.2 billion have access to a mobile phone, yet less than 1.8 billion have bank accounts. Indeed access to mobile communication will soon surpass access to drinking water.
Bringing to stage a dry sense of British humor was Thomas Gregory, Head of Digital Payments, Europe for Barclaycard. Working for a 300 year old financial institution Gregory dryly pointed out that Barclay's does not move at lightening speed when adopting new technology, yet at his helm, he has launched mobile pay tags on target to surpass one million users by year-end, as well as the Barclaycard wrist band, a novel solution that allows users to pay for merchandise under $30 from RFID tags embedded in a silicon wrist band. This month, Gregory anticipates 150,000 UK festivalgoers will keep their cash at home and wave a wrist at the fast food stands.
Thomas Gregory, Head of Digital payments, Europe Barclaycard (London UK) showing the mobile wristband designed for festival goers.
Panel discussions were lively and spirited and included observations from Samantha Willems, Manager, Brand Marketing for Old Navy, the discount division of the Gap who prudently brought to the table, "if you are servicing a lower income demographic, perhaps a mobile commerce strategy is not a main priority when your core customer doesn't own a smart phone", a point seconded with great hilarity by Bob Atkinson, Director, Financial Services at Home Depot Canada, who added that when a large portion of your customers are part of the underground economy doing cash deals, a mobile payment won't be happening anytime soon!
Jonathan Stephen, Head of Mobile JetBlue Airways also used humor to great applause, showing JetBlue's latest app commercial where they spoof some of the crazy things as airline passengers we accept without question, but when placed in other environments, such as a taxi cab, the fists start flying.
Day One of the Mobile Transactions & Commerce Summit made clear that the actual commerce payment is a small part of the mobile ecosystem; information, availability to inventory, corporate awareness and increasing the overall user experience still have starring roles. Barclaycard's Gregory suggested that critical adoption of mobile payments won't hit a critical mass until 2016.