An interesting email about ISIS – and the future of mobile money

Written by on July 24, 2014 in BillingViews, Opinion with 0 Comments

You know how, in most email boxes, you can just see the title of the email and the first line of the text?

Well, imagine how difficult it was for us not to grin with sheer glee when we saw an email from our friends at Mobile Payments Today. The title was ‘ISIS needs a phoenix-like reincarnation’ and then ‘if you are having trouble with this message…’ We had no trouble with the message.

ISIS, the ‘innovative’ mobile wallet that was designed by a committee of vast telecom conglomerates and payment providers who are incapable of innovation, is rebranding. Because they now share the same name as the group of insurgents who are threatening the stability of the Middle East. Perhaps someone thought the two might be confused, or one might try to bribe the other.

We spent a little time, over coffee, thinking about how we might re-brand an expensive, not really needed mobile wallet, found we were having far too much fun and went back to work (a special BillingViews Award will be presented for the best branding idea).

Whatever you might think about ISIS (rhymes with crisis) and we do not think very much, the whole mobile wallet thing seems to be becoming murkier and murkier. Perhaps we are losing sight of an important point – a wallet is not just the place you keep your debit or credit card. A wallet is where you keep keys, money, tickets, loyalty cards, coupons, vouchers, receipts, small pieces of paper with telephone numbers you don’t recognise – all sorts of things.

And yet we focus on the payments angle. So, for a moment, let’s do that.

Payments is – to use an expression that is on the BillingViews’ list of expressions that should only used under duress or attack by ISIS – where the rubber meets the road.

Everyone is getting into it. In the past two days, we see that mobile payments are coming to SnapChat, Twitter has acquired payments infrastructure company CardSpring and in wallet land Amazon ‘sneakily’ launched its own mobile wallet and Apple’s passbook is used more frequently than other digital wallets. Start ups are legion, banks are trying, payments providers are innovating, communications companies are pushing and shoving, Starbucks is being asked to white label their in-house offering.

Everyone’s focus is on payments because that is the moment when the merchant and the customer interact. It is the moment when the customer effortlessly swipes or clicks, sighs and thinks ‘what a simple experience, how nice,’ or gets increasingly angry.

Payments, those few seconds of interaction, are the crucial ones, where the impetuous, waiting at the check out, why not? moments happen. This is the moment when you are given an unexpected discount, or free coffee on your next visit, told that your loyalty points add up to a whole ‘free’ shop.

This space, those few seconds, are where those who can pull off the context aware, intuitive, real time, location based, impulsive, compelling offers will win. Will it be telcos, banks, payments providers, wallet makers, Google, Amazon or Apple?

Who knows, but it is, we believe, the most interesting game to watch over the next couple of years. And watching we will be.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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