Engage Customers With Mobile Wallet Marketing

Forrester predicts that the future of mobile wallets will go far beyond mobile payments. In the West, this vision is still a work in progress. However, Chinese digital juggernauts Alipay and WeChat have morphed their mobile wallets into rich customer engagement platforms. My latest report, “Engage Customers With Mobile Wallet Marketing,” tells what global players can learn from Asia’s digital leaders.

Alipay and WeChat show marketers the future of mobile wallets. While mainstream Western mobile wallets primarily focus on payments, pioneer mobile wallets in China have taken aggressive steps and become powerful customer engagement tools with innovative features — such as WeChat’s social gifting and Alipay’s augmented reality (AR) coupons and red packets. Their mobile wallet innovations span the customer life cycle (see figure).

The mobile wallet of the future is closer than you think. Market-entry obstacles like different business cultures, consumer behaviors, and regulations make it unlikely that Alipay and WeChat will operate directly in other markets beyond targeting Chinese travelers. However, the successful marketing use cases developed on Alipay and WeChat Wallet will inspire third-party players like Apple and PayPal to morph their mobile wallets into more powerful customer engagement platforms. In the next few years, we expect to see that:

  • Emerging mobile wallets will develop features like Alipay and WeChat. We expect mobile wallet innovations to happen more quickly in emerging markets with less legacy and competition. Paytm in India is a good example.
  • Mainstream mobile wallets will add customer engagement features. For example, to help its mobile wallet attract more traffic to offline stores, PayPal added features like “stores nearby” and “order ahead.”
  • Space will open up for third-party providers. The West’s different ecosystem creates added competition for its mobile wallet players, and gives third-party providers opportunities to add customer engagement features and offerings to Western mobile wallets and uncover the potential of marketing.

Marketers face a challenge: Most customers will not download their brands’ mobile apps. So marketers need to smartly leverage the mobile ecosystem to borrow mobile moments from the popular apps that their customers already use every day. Mobile wallets are such apps. To prepare to borrow mobile moments from mobile wallets, read my full report.

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