We all know the mobile era is upon us. At its core, the massive consumer shift to smartphones is about one thing: empowerment. Or as Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape noted, smartphones are the technology "that puts the computer--literally puts a computer-- in everybody's hand." ¹ What do people do with such power at their fingertips?
Spend money, of course.
A survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that 39 million Americans made an online purchase using their phone in 2011. That represents 20% of all mobile phone owners in the US. The survey also found an increasing number of smartphone owners (59%) affirmed that having the ability to make a purchase using their mobile device was at least "somewhat important."
Let's take a look at two companies capitalizing on this trend by providing creative mobile payment solutions for the smartphone-toting masses.
What if you could store all of your plastic - credit cards, loyalty cards, membership cards - in your smartphone? iCache has created a mobile wallet solution for iphones that does just that.
Promoted as the most secure wallet you've ever seen, the iCache Geode is an iPhone case that contains a rewritable magstripe card on its rear end. By installing the corresponding app on an iPhone 4/4S, users can store their credit card information on their smartphones and write it onto the so-called GeoCard.²
The GeoCard can instantly morph into any credit card you've uploaded into your iPhone. Moreover, a small e-ink display mounted on the back of the Geode displays the barcodes for loyalty cards that have been stored in the app.² For enhanced security, Geode comes equipped with a James Bondesque biometric reader that registers your fingerprint (remembering that every human has a unique fingerprint).
The set-up is pretty simple. Just input some basic information so the Geode can identify you. The Geode comes with a small reader attachment so users can effortlessly swipe any cards with magnetic strips into the mobile device. Users can add loyalty cards by taking a pic of the barcode with the iPhone's camera.
To choose which credit card to upload into the Geocard, just tap the Geode button and select a card from the iPhone display; that card's information is instantly transferred into the GeoCard stored at the back of the case. You can then pull out the card and swipe it at any POS system.
The Geode offers two big advantages to consumers: convenience and security. Having all of your cards integrated with your mobile device is pretty handy. The inclusion of a biometric reader ensures that sensitive credit card information can only be accessed by the device owner, so if you lose your phone, your information is safe.
Check out ICache's promotional video for the Geode iPhone case, which retails for $199:
Oftentimes, real-world experiences provide inspiration for new technologies. Such is the case with TabbedOut, a mobile platform that allows customers to make quick, secure, plastic-free payments at select bars and restaurants.
Inspiration for TabbedOut came to co-founder Rick Orr in 2002, after he waited almost an hour for a check at a Mexican restaurant in Austin. "I was walking out to the parking lot and knew there had to be a better way," Orr says.³
TabbedOut has grown steadily since the company's 2009 launch, enjoying a 315% year-over-year growth in its consumer channel. With about 1,000 bars and restaurants throughout the country using the mobile payment solution across the country, TabbedOut recently announced a national partnership with T.G.I. Friday's.³
Mobile payment solutions such as the iCache Geode and TabbedOut are instructive for business owners and marketers, as they're reflective of the final stage of mobile's integration into the consumer buying cycle.
Beginning with mobile-friendly web design (mobile web apps, responsive web, mcommerce) and continuing with mobile marketing (mobile ad campaigns, m-copywriting, geo-local targeting), user-friendly mobile payment solutions complete the circle.
No business is immune from mobile. To adapt, brands need to implement a holistic (social local) mobile strategy that addresses every stage of the consumer buying cycle from the perspective of the smartphone (and tablet) user.
After all, they're the ones wielding all that power in the palm of their hands.
How is your business preparing for the massive consumer shift to mobile?
³ Fast Company,"Tech Please! Austin-Born App Speeds Up Your Dining Experience"