On December 8, Alipay celebrated its 10th anniversary by launching the latest version of its digital wallet. What makes this upgrade different and notable is its “10-year statement diary” feature. The statement diary contains data like when a user first made a purchase on Taobao, opened a Yu’ebao account, created an Alipay wallet, hailed a cab using Kuaidi Taxi, and followed a service window. Not only do these 10-year statements record every Alipay customer’s consumption experience, but put together they also trace the rapid development of online payments in China.
Internet giants like Alibaba and Tencent are aggressively promoting digital wallet usage via competing mobile apps for taxi-hailing. Alibaba has gone further and is cooperating with big brick-and-mortar shopping mall chains to promote mobile commerce via the Taobao and Alipay digital wallets, with the aim of boosting merchant adoption of its digital wallet solution.
In light of the emerging trend of digital wallets in China, my first Forrester report, Understanding Digital Wallet Options For Your Business In China, introduces the digital wallet solutions that the major players in the Chinese market provide, the typical usage scenarios, and merchants’ adoption strategies. Most of the digital wallet options offer abundant value-added services as a means of attracting consumers.
The following chart shows the digital wallet options that the major players provide in China. They fall into three types: remote-only, proximity-only, and omnichannel wallets. The latter incorporates the different types, provides the most value-added services, and integrates mobile commerce, payments, and financial management in a single mobile app — giving digital wallet players the most space to deliver their services and capture consumers.
As the sun sets on the summer season, I made one last getaway to a local island to enjoy the final moments of warm weather. While this small, remote island offers a chance to disconnect, it doesn't forsake the conveniences we are accustomed to in the process. Despite my lack of cash to hand, making a purchase from the small businesses at a rustic farmer’s market couldn’t have been easier — thanks to the vendors’ alternative mobile payment option.
Leveraging new devices for complex tasks that involve sensitive information or personal data demands consumer trust. The mobile payment adoption curve has been gradual for several reasons, one of which is the lack of trust, but recent news hints at the impressive connections that become possible once consumers put their trust in a service. PayPal recently announced several updates to its mobile phone application that make the app as relevant, complex, and functional as a mobile wallet. By winning the trust of a vast consumer base, PayPal is able to introduce more advanced features with the knowledge that consumers will seamlessly engage with the new offerings.
In fact, Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data shows that US online adults trust PayPal more than any other financial institution to act as a mobile wallet platform:
The Asia Pacific mobile payment landscape is currently in an exciting phase of development, but remains fragmented. Asian telcos will likely need to wait at least another two to three years to see traction with mobile payments. Here’s why:
User readiness. Let’s face it: Cash and credit/debit cards still dominate the payment landscape, and are a lot more convenient to use. While penetration of feature and smartphones has grown substantially in Asia, not many people actually use their phones for mobile payments. Even in markets like Australia and South Korea, cash and credit cards remain highly popular among consumers. And if demand remains low, merchants will not deign to accept mobile payments — creating a vicious cycle.
Infrastructure development. Telecom infrastructure in many Asian countries remains uneven with spotty coverage, (e.g. India and Indonesia). Without proper network access, mobile payments will not propagate outside of urban areas, if at all. While Globe’s Gcash has seen some level of success, the truth is that mobile payments remain nascent in the Philippines specifically and in Asia more broadly. In addition, there is still limited handset support for mobile payments (e.g. some Android models are not able to work with a service). Australia’s Commonwealth Bank went ahead with its m-payment launch after deciding not to wait for incompatible handsets to catch up.
I’ve spent the past two days at Finovate Europe in London, which has rapidly established itself as the leading European retail financial technology event of the year. This year’s event was bigger than last year’s, with 64 exhibitors spread over the two days.
Here are my impressions from the two days:
Innovation is hard and usually incremental. Our expectations are so high. It’s easy to sit in the audience and think ‘I’ve seen something like that before’. It’s a lot harder to develop truly new ideas, let alone build them and market them. Innovation is necessarily incremental, moving into the adjacent possible opportunity as my colleague James McQuivey puts it (see him explain it on video here). True invention is extremely rare. As James puts it in his new book, “The most powerful ideas consciously draw from and incorporate elements that were being developed by others along the way, ultimately generating the best outcome in the shortest time at the most efficient cost.” That’s what makes events like Finovate so useful.
At our Marketing & Strategy Forum last November, Sean Gilchrist, head of digital banking at Barclays Bank, talked passionately about the importance of customer experience to the work being done by his team at Barclays. It's good to see some of the results of that focus on customers in two innovations introduced by Barclays in the past few weeks:
Firstly, Barclays has started rolling out a new online banking interface. While I'm sure that not every customer will like the change, the point is that Barclays is taking a modular (or widget-like) approach to displaying content and functionality in anticipation of having to serve customers on a rapidly growing range of digital devices. We think that approach is going to become increasingly common as eBusiness teams adjust to the fragmentation brought by the Splinternet.