Payments do not make a wallet

31 07 2013

There are many “wallet” offerings becoming available each month, only in the past few days, we’ve seen announcements from MasterCard, ISIS (USA only), VISA, Zapp and a few others. But how many of them can actually claim to be a real wallet?

Mobile Wallets need to do everything our wallet does, and more...

Mobile Wallets need to do everything our wallet does, and more…

 

The fact is that mobile wallets almost all focus purely on making a payment, and that payment is made against either a consumers debit or credit card. While they all get a lot of press it seems, I still don’t understand why no one has looked at how these product offerings can be classed as digital wallets.

 

I choose what I have in my wallet

My first issue with almost all digital wallets is that they force me to spend my hard earned money using a particular debit / credit card. That on its own is quite frustrating, but it can get a lot worse in the world of mobile payments. In some cases I am forced to have a particular card and card scheme to be able to use the wallet, that isn’t that flexible at all. Does MasterCard for example really expect me to ditch my banks VISA card in favour of their card scheme just so I can complete a transaction on my phone? Hold on though, things can get worse than this still. Not only could I be forced to use a particular card scheme, with a particular card with a particular wallet, I may also be forced to have a particular SIM from my mobile network and the final nail in the coffin is have to have a particular device (which rules out the iPhone by the way).

Not sure I like all these things dictating me what my wallet is, the fact it holds nothing else but a payment card and how I can spend using my wallet. I personally like having the choice to put easily any number of different payment cards in my own wallet, including loyalty cards which double up as payment cards in certain stores (ala Starbucks).

 

My wallet holds more than payments

When looking at not just my wallet, almost anyone’s wallet the first thing I notice is that actually, debit / credit cards take up very little space. Do this right now, and see if you get a similar result. As I type this, I’m opening up my wallet to count no less than 9 card locations. That’s quite a lot. But how many of these actually hold a debit or credit card….The answer, 3 in my case.

I have my own personal debit card used for my day to day spending, my company Credit Card, and a joint Credit Card I have with my wife for weekly spending on shopping for example. Don’t miss understand me, the remaining card slots are all filled. I’ve an Oyster card (used for transport around London if you aren’t familiar with this), and the other slots are all made up with membership cards, oh and 2 loyalty cards being forced to share a slot.

I would also like to point out, that just like Sheldon Cooper in the Big Bang Theory (if you ever watch that TV show) I’ve had to abandon many a loyalty scheme or membership card from my wallet, simply due to the lack of space.

But let’s continue, what else makes up the contents of my wallet. Well, cash makes up a little part of it, numerous deals and vouchers (a lot from Sainsbury it seems), travel tickets, VAT receipts for petrol and a number of other receipts. I also have a key code dongle thing for entry to the office and a few bits of paper with notes on particular deliveries I am expecting.

So with my wallet content in mind, why do digital wallet companies claim to deliver a wallet when they essentially force me just to carry a single payment method and nothing else??? I’m sorry, but that is never going to replace my real wallet.

 

Intelligence

While I’m moaning about my wallet contents not being made available, I should also have a moan at the fact that these mobile wallets also don’t add any real intelligence. At most it seems I can check my balance, that’s not that intelligent is it. Why can I not see my receipts, my spending habits, my loyalty points, how long I have to go to be able to redeem loyalty points, when a particular voucher expires etc… I expect a smartphone to be smart, and any wallet on my smartphone to also be smarter than my actual physical wallet, and yet the vast majority of wallet offerings simply aren’t smart.

All in all, when I look at the mobile payments landscape I am not surprised that no one method rules the world or that any have really gained traction (with the exception of the Starbucks loyalty app).

 

Zync Wallet?

Those of you who read my blog or know me will already know that obviously I have an interested in mobile payments and digital wallets, after all my own company has designed and built the Zync wallet app. But my issues and comments in this post are spot on. They are also in many ways the issues that have driven Zync Wallet in the direction it has taken.

We firmly believe that if a mobile wallet is to really work, then it needs to replace everything that I can carry in my wallet today (with the exception of those items that really do need to be physically on you….I’m sure you can think of a few). Our Zync Wallet is all about flexibility, security and intelligence.

Zync Wallet is flexible enough for you to top it up using any bank account, we even provide you with the option to hook in access to your bank account directly into the wallet. We also won’t limit you to one payment method, rather we have many others coming online in the wallet very soon. We also won’t limit you to what you can store in the wallet, we provide support for membership cards, discount schemes, loyalty cards and schemes, deals, vouchers and a lot more.

But I would say our biggest thing is intelligence and relationships. Our wallet is about making the wallet intelligent, so it can help serve you better. That means it lets you know easily how many loyalty points you have, what deals you have, where you can find the best deals, how many points you need to gain before you can redeem them. It even helps you build relationships with your favourite stores while helping them provide you with better customer service.

 

Conclusion, if there is one…

Is that payments alone do not, and will not ever deliver a great digital wallet. Mobile can deliver so much more, and yet the majority of offerings to date all seem to scrabble over market share of card payments, rather than focus on real consumer and business needs, and what can be achieved with mobile…As the title says, payments do not make a wallet…

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