How to differentiate your mobile payments strategy

3. May 2018.

By Keith McAuliffe, general manager, financial services sector, Solace

Many businesses today are still struggling with the delivery of their mobile payments enablement journey. Creating a seamless experience for clients requires developing a comprehensive mobile payments strategy that addresses both the technology enablement and the creation of a differentiated product experience. Neglecting one or the other can set a company up for failure before they’ve even begun.

In the age of Amazon and app stores, consumers already have high expectations for mobile payments capabilities. And because they likely have other options, if they don’t like the experience you’re providing they will simply take their business elsewhere.

To succeed, it’s necessary to cultivate the right experience for individual audiences. Mobile payments technology adoption is increasing all over the world, taking away the novelty of simply offering the capability to customers. This is why it’s more important than ever to move away from thinking deployment-first and toward creating a truly comprehensive mobile payments capability—including dispute resolution and customer care.

What now drives value and ROI is a curated payment process that is not only secure and efficient, but also engages consumers and incentivizes them to make additional or repeated purchases. In this regard, mobile payment tools can help build customer loyalty and trust.

So where should you start? When it comes to building a sustainable mobile payments platform, start by taking a holistic view of your technology. This includes assessing both back-end and front-end features to understand how each component of the technology impacts the business.

Here are a few key points to consider as you build out your mobile payments strategy:

Maintain a balanced security experience

It’s understood that mobile payments technology needs to offer secure transactions and protect customer data. However, it is also critical that these same security capabilities don’t negatively impact the checkout experience. Consumers expect mobile payments apps to be as secure as possible, but aren’t willing to wait longer to make sure. It’s easier said than done, but improving security should not introduce new points of friction into the user experience.

This is where back-end technology for smart data movement makes the difference. By ensuring the payment infrastructure is agile enough to easily pull data from different cloud or legacy resources based on where user information has been stored in the past, businesses can bypass potential roadblocks or delays. It is also important to invest in the right technology to optimize the speed and diligence of encryption or other security processes. This allows the user to almost forget about the security protocols occuring on the back-end and helps businesses stay competitive when it comes to offering a seamless customer experience.

Identifying ways to earn and keep customer trust

The main ingredient of a successful mobile payments tool is user trust. Without this, providers will see limited sustained use of their application and find it more difficult to earn a significant ROI on the technology investment. While strong back-end security protocol is important, businesses need to protect access to payments accounts. A single negative experience in this regard can tarnish consumer trust for a lifetime.

The best way to establish this is to implement strategies that leverage a two-factor authentication system for funds allocation—limiting potential hacks and ensuring that if someone does gain access to the app, they do not also hold the keys to a user’s bank account or credit card.

Transparency is also a critical component for any mobile payments strategy, especially when it comes to unexpected errors or breaches. When there is an issue with a mobile payments app, the worst thing to do is leave the user in the dark, with a spinning wheel or a bland error message. Providing no or inadequate information to the user leaves them feeling vulnerable, frustrated, and certainly lacking in trust.

While providers can’t control every issue, it’s important to communicate to the user what is wrong and what is being done to amend the problem. And perhaps the best way to do this is by offering an in-app customer service experience. By resolving an issue directly where it is happening, you’ll be meeting the customer where they are rather than creating an additional point of friction by asking them to go elsewhere.

Scaling the mobile payments experience to align with your audience

Not everyone needs to build a mobile payments app for a national or global audience. In fact, when done correctly, localized and culturally-aware applications and experiences are likely to provide more user satisfaction and loyalty. This requires integrating a secondary data infrastructure that takes into account user location, past purchases and other types of customer behaviors in order to individualize the shopping experience.

Meeting the needs of your audience is also about providing the right kind of access to improve the shopping experience. This can seem out-of-place if we are talking about “mobile” payments, but even applications based on mobile are required to have an omnichannel approach to customer engagement.

It’s also important to select the most effective co-branding or rewards partner for your mobile payments experience. Several credit card companies have joined with well known consumer brands to provide spending incentive rewards programs. Programs such as “spend $5 via your mobile phone at this retailer and receive credits toward your favorite ride sharing or streaming music subscription service” help drive repeat business and build a repeatable pattern of customer behavior.

The biggest misconception an organization can have when implementing a mobile payments solution is only allowing access through its native app, instead of providing secondary access through mobile web, desktop or even an in-store interaction. Customers will likely use the native app as their primary access to the mobile payments tool, but may enjoy having the ability to review their purchases with an in-store agent or reload their digital card on their desktop.

It’s commonly assumed that generational divides can hinder the adoption of mobile payments technology. However, as more millennials begin to use different payment applications, we will find that their parents, coworkers and friends from other generations will also be open to testing out the new technology.

To sustain success, it will then be up to your team to create the right experience by investing in the right data infrastructure to ensure each interaction is secure, efficient and personalized.

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