Is mobile a gamble?

Sept. 8, 2014
Slow adopt won’t keep this technology from becoming wide-spread. Operators need to be ready.

Question. Who is sick and tired of hearing how great technology is? Who wishes we were back to only accepting cash as the form of payment? Weren’t things so much easier then? I must admit that there are times when I think times are changing much too fast. Seems like there is a new technology out there every 5 minutes nowadays doesn’t it? So it’s no wonder why as a business owner, it can seem like quite a daunting task when deciding how to move our businesses forward. I’d be willing to pay top dollar on a guaranteed sure thing, but unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a sure thing when it comes to business. Here is what we know for sure. Those who are willing to take an educated risk in their businesses tend to have more success than those who make no changes from year to year. The latest technology that is getting all the focus lately is the use of mobile payments. Since the NAMA OneShow, I don’t think there has been a week that has gone by where someone hasn’t asked me what my thoughts were on mobile payment. There are millions if not billions of dollars spent by companies to develop the mobile payment solution that consumers will hands down use. We’ve even covered some of those investments in VendingMarketWatch Today.

Education key to mobile 

Despite a ton of financial backing, I read an article published on that consumers have been fairly slow to adopt to mobile payments. I’m not really surprised nor discouraged by this finding at all. I personally believe that the U.S. market is still in the infancy of mobile payment. There’s a lot of education that still needs to be done with regards to mobile payment. I know that there is a lot of focus to catering to Millennials, but if you’ve read any of the characteristics of Millennials, you’d find that they are a generation that doesn’t trust blindly and is very skeptical. In fact, their characteristics can be quite similar to that of Baby Boomers. They also are price conscious and look at getting the best value for the price they are willing to pay.

According to the article, analytics and loyalty will drive the growth of mobile payments. The article further states that research already shows that of those using mobile payment apps, 53 percent report that they’ve either used or are interested in redeeming offers and coupons with their handsets. That is a global number, but I think this will be a key component to mobile payment app acceptance in the future. I think it will certainly appeal to Millennials need of getting the best value for the price they pay. We’ve already reported on successful rewards programs like Starbucks and McDonalds, I just believe that we’ll see the same type of trends in vending. So I think that once mobile payment providers really educate the benefits of their technology to the consumer audience, you’ll see adoption gain quickly and will start hearing what their preferred apps are.

Don't wait for widespread use

So have I solved what do to with mobile payments in our industry? Hardly. However, I don’t believe that mobile payment is something that you can ignore until acceptance is widespread. I think our industry still needs to learn how consumers are adapting and using mobile payment in their day to day lives. I also think that our industry must understand the buying habits of its consumers in different locations, identify trends and discover the possible opportunities. The best part of it all? You’re not alone. Partner with your VMS and cashless providers. They are a wealth of knowledge. Also, look for more articles on this topic as it relates to the industry in future issues of Automatic Merchandiser and