Walking the streets of Barcelona back to my hotel after the first day of Mobile World Congress, a section of street art-fitti seemed to sum up the start to the world’s biggest trade event for mobile technology in just one word:
Innovative and inspiring? Yes. A bit chaotic? Absolutely.
My team was powering social media efforts for Visa Digital Solutions, a division of the payments behemoth led by an incredible group of gurus spearheading connected commerce with IOT-centric cars, mCommerce, Visa Checkout, developments in tokenization, and more. Universally echoed across a variety of keynotes, panels, and seminars was the fact that 2015 is ACTUALLY the year of mobile- for real this time- after 5-10 years of that claim being made at MWC every year. Why 2015? What has shifted to fulfill the ultimate prophecy of the mobile industry? The 90,000 people in attendance at MWC would obviously give a variety of answers, but would probably agree on at least these 3 reasons:
1) Consumer Tech Caught Up
Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, new Android capabilities- consumer smartphones are simply better equipped, even in the last 6 months, for everything from frictionless payments to powering the IOT. Regardless of the low merchant adoption numbers after the launch of Apple Pay, consumer behaviors will drag merchants kicking and screaming into the digital payment space- it is only a matter of time. Notable payments VC (and dear friend) Madding King has cleverly coined the perfect descriptive phrase for this trend: he calls it the “Tapping Point” of mobile payments.
Security is the new sexy. Tired of data breaches, hacks, and comprises- the consumer psyche has all but thrown in the towel on the concept of privacy.Tokenization changes that. Finally, a security standard that is designed to be consumer-first, not corporation-first. Assigning personal token identifiers to thumbprint protected devices (not accounts) disrupts the nearly outdated concept of the 16 digit number- which clearly has seen its’ day in terms of protecting our identities, funds, and data. The refreshing security protocols woven into the fabric of mobile payments will be the ultimate shift supporter when it comes to consumers taking back a sense of control in world of digital transactions.
3) Consumer Readiness
The more consumers see smart concepts like Visa’s Connected Car, the less crazy the idea of your phone doubling as your wallet seems. If you can now pay for parking, pizza, gas and more without leaving your car- why wouldn’t waving your phone at a merchant POS while breezing through checkout be a no-brainer? Multi-purpose reliance on mobile devices to hold our schedules, our photos, our connections, and our heath is prompting consumers to wonder: why DO we need to carry a separate wallet that only serves a singular purpose? Suddenly, the inefficiency of the wallet is glaringly obvious to even the most tech-wary of second mover consumers.
If the global community at MWC is correct, the future of connected commerce truly is here and happening in 2015. I’m making a note to myself to see if I have gotten rid of my wallet by December. What do you think? Will you be 100% mobile-reliant by the end of this year?