Mobile Payments Are Dead. Long Live Mobile Payments! | Modo Payments

Posted by Modo on Aug 23, 2016 8:57:50 PM


We are gathered here today in memory of Mobile Payments.  You remember mobile payments, don’t you?

No, not that thing where you spend your actual hard-earned cash to buy pretend candies that make other pretend candies disappear from your mobile screen while you are seated in the loo…

We are talking about that glorious revolution from earlier in the decade where you could use your mobile device in a real store to purchase actual physical goods and services.

Yeah.  Now you’re feeling us.  (Not literally.  That would be totally inappropriate at a memorial service, but uh… look us up later.)

Remember that time that the mobile carriers accidentally named their product after a future terrorist organization (RIP ISIS) and then hurriedly renamed themselves to sound like the beginning of a Viagra commercial (RIP Softcard)?  Ooo – or that time Google was going to revolutionize in-store payments with a technology that only worked in like three stores (RIP Google Wallet 1.0)?  How about that merchant coalition that was going to let you pay with your phone in all the major stores?  Those guys were hilarious, weren’t they (RIP MCX)?  And so many of our other mobile payment friends – gone before their time.  RIP Clinkle, Square Wallet, PayPal in Store…

“Why!?” we scream at the heavens.  “Why did they have to go to that happy product shelf in the sky where the people buy and the profits roll regardless of the value provided?”

Oh.  Well we guess there is that.  Value – or lack thereof.  Perhaps that was why.

It turns out consumers actually want value these days.  Gone are the golden years of nubile smartphone users when all you had to do to get a user to download an app was stick it out on an app store and make it look pretty.  Back then you could get rubes – ahem – we mean “users” to install an app where all it did was mimic the musical notes of flatulence!  (Note to selves: Delete that from our phone before our five year-old finds it.)

Now the user wants, nay demands that an app actually improves their lives.  Unreasonable we know, but there is no accounting for the taste of the masses.

What did ISIS ever offer to improve the user’s life?  Nothing.  And what about Google Wallet?  Oh that’s right: nothing.  But of course we can’t forget MCX.  Wait – nothing.  Clinkle, Square Wallet, PayPal?  Cough-nothing-cough.

So what?  Is this the fate of all mobile payment solutions?  To come up with a weird or unimaginative name, spend investment capital for a few years, and then die alone like poor ol’ James Tiberius Kirk?  Say it ain’t so!

It ain’t so!  (See how we just set ourselves up there?  It’s because we are coming to the point.)

There are among us the living!  Starbucks App anyone?  Wal-Mart Pay?  Chick-fil-a One?  These solutions come at things from a different angle.  They each only work at a single merchant, which is a little sad, but they do attempt something novel: to make the purchasing experience as a whole better in the realm of time, convenience, choice, or good old fashioned purchasing power (loyalty points, free stuff, Chuck E. Cheese tokens, etc).

The good news is that they only represent a fraction of the solutions brewing in the broader “digital payments” space.

“Digital payments” is what we call the merger of mobile payments + online payments for a whole host of better buying experiences.  We were going to call it “the Singularity” but that sounded way too pretentious/sci-fi nerdy.  Also, we didn’t want to get it confused with the super AI living in our basement.  (That guy is just a Debbie Downer with his I’ll-hijack-all-your-nukes this and I’ll-subjugate-humankind-one-day that.)

Stripe, Klarna, BlueSnap, Apple & Android Pay, and Verifone all are enabling or being enabled by digital payments.  And in turn they are paving the way or benefiting from a better, reimagined mobile payments.

One where:

  • Multiple parties in a sale can organize, pay, and get paid in entirely new ways (Klarna)
  • Consumers can simultaneously access multiple sources of value at the cash register (Verifone)
  • Consumers can register their payment credentials with a trusted party that will enable acceptance across a broad range of merchants (Apple Pay)

These current solutions aren’t blindly providing a dull mobile payment solution to the exclusion of customer experience, value, profitability, and everything else.  Rather they are focused on building an improved buying experience – whether that happens in the store or online or in the no-man’s-land-that-is-becoming-everyone’s-land in-between.

So while we mourn our friends and the original vision of mobile payments that have gone before, it is with hope and anticipation that we look toward the new mobile (aka digital) payments.  The up-and-comers and their radical new ideas of focusing on value for the consumer wherever that value may be found.


Now that the service is over (if you’re still interested) why don’t you go ahead and give us a call?  Maybe we can make a connection.

Topics: payment method acceptance, #paymentsgeekthoughts