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A mollet for the masses - 9 pieces that complete the puzzle

Did you know that the word “wallet” has been in use since the late 14th century to refer to a bag or knapsack for carrying articles? And that in the 19th century, wallets could be used for carrying money, victuals, dried meat, treasures and things not to be exposed! Honestly, I didn’t know about the meat! But here’s what I do know about wallets from the time I've seen them. One, that wallets have always been used to carry money. Two, they have also been very personal to an individual, and three, they almost always fit into your pocket!

In today's day and age, the buzz is around the mobile wallet (or mollet) as I call it. Simply put, a mollet is the digital equivalent to the physical wallet you have in your pocket / purse today. It is a great innovative solution in terms of technology, but I find very few people around me actually using it for their everyday needs. “So what will it take to create a mollet for the masses?” I wonder many times.

Sharing my views in this post below:

1)  Consumer Trust in Mollets

"Trust is built when someone is vulnerable and not taken advantage of." --Bob Vanourek, Author

Quiz anyone about their potential usage of any mollet solution, and their first questions and ponderings are almost always around the “security of payments”. Almost everyone who understands how easy, simple and convenient mobile payments are is willing to try it once, if it comes with a seal of trust. So any mollet solution which is reliable, secure and fool-proof as far as the actual payment transaction is concerned has a fair chance of consumer adoption. And every single news of a security breach in mobile payments system (however big / small) will only delay the consumer cycle of adoption.

2) Consumer Awareness and Understanding of Mollets

If a potential consumer doesn’t know about a mollet offering, how will they use it? This is of course the initial phase in the cycle of consumer adoption, and hence needs a significant amount of marketing / advertising spend and consumer outreach programs for increasing awareness to the common consumer.  Continuous connects and regular conversations with consumers for education and engagement will be crucial in the mobile payments journey.

What will be key is to find ways to expedite the “process of awareness” (through traditional / modern marketing strategies) so the “rate of adoption” increases exponentially.  The other issue is that there are too many mollet solutions in the marketplace that it is really tough to differentiate between any two options, and zero-in on the best one. Guess everyone is learning and evolving, and only time will tell who will stay in the game for the long haul. 

3) The Overall Consumer Experience

Today, the act of shopping is disjointed. Say, for example, a consumer is at their favorite retailer and remembers an email that was received a few days earlier with a deal for a new sweater. To redeem that offer, he or she must locate it on their phone, present it to the cashier, and then pay via an entirely different channel. ……. a seamless shopping experience for the consumer from start to finish. Regardless of a company’s role in the mobile payments supply chain, every company agrees that the user experience must be seamless, or frictionless. In fact, payments should be invisible to the user.” Pascal Caillon, GM of North America, Proxama

In the last few years, the world appears to be moving from a “product / service” based economy to an “experience-thirsty” society. As a global community, the need of the hour is for “experiential solutions” which address a consumer need or problem.

The thing about experiences and how we as individuals live them is very personal, contextual and is significantly influenced by the culture and the social ecosystem we are a part of. The other thing about experiences is there are very many flavors of how we all live them. So there are purely physical experiences, emotional experiences, intellectual experiences, information experiences, cultural experiences, financial experiences, social experiences and ethereal experiences. Each of these flavors add up in their own way to the overall experience we have as individuals. Hence, there are ample opportunities and paradigms for mollet solutions to (re-)create new experiences for consumers.

4)  Ease of Cash-In and Cash-Out to / from the Mollet

The traditional wallet is so simple to use because you can easily control how and when you want to put cash-in to the wallet and how and when you want to remove cash from the wallet. A mollet should be no different. Loading the mollet with cash should be a simple, seamless and straight-forward process, and using that cash for an online / offline purchase should be equally smooth. 

5)  Personalization of the Mollet

A wallet is a very personal accessory / utility for many of us. The colors, designs and what you actually keep in a wallet is really based on personal needs, choices and preferences – like your family photos, or your personal ID proof, etc. A mollet should be no different. Some level of personalization in terms of what colors and designs you use, along with an ability to add photos or any content you personally like should be possible. A fun feature might be to let the mollet play a musical tune every time you use it. Something which makes you feel good about the money you are spending! 

6) Merchant Adoption and Acceptance 

Any payment mechanism however novel, unique, cool, innovative or futuristic it may be has limited value if it can’t be used at the point of sale. How would you feel when you stand in a billing queue only to hear “We don’t accept that payment mechanism”. Not a pleasant situation, I’d guess.

Denée Carrington, Forrester Analyst has explained this in her reportMerchants Will Pick Who Wins The Digital Wallet Wars”.  She says “Success in payments requires large scale: A large base of consumers who use your payment method and a large base of merchants who accept it for payments…

The key to succeed in the long run will really be around mass adoption across all merchants in the marketplace. As a consumer, I don’t want to pay in different ways at different merchants, unless there is a significant financial gain for me.

7)  Mobile Data Infrastructure / Connectivity

Mollets typically work based on the availability of good mobile data infrastructure / connectivity. However, in reality there are very many instances when the networks fails just at the time of a payment. That is frustrating – both for the consumer and merchant, and is really beyond both their control. For main-stream adoption of mollets – it should wok every single time, and in every single place. It should be as simple and seamless as cash. Till then, expecting mass adoption appears to be a lofty ambition. 

8)  Good (Reliable) Mobile Battery Life

How many times has your mobile battery failed on you? Especially when you need to make that urgent call or speak to someone real bad? It happens many times for many of us, and it is not a pleasant situation. Though battery life has nothing to do directly with a mollet, it indirectly affects my confidence in spending and how much and where I can actually spend. 

9)  Long term financial Economics for players in the ecosystem

The Mobile payments ecosystems is an extremely crowded and fragmented ecosystem. Every single day, I read of a new fintech startup looking at providing a mobile payments solution, or I see a new product launch which revolves around mobile payments / wallets – from large multi-billion dollar brands to small startup disruptors.

Since several industries are already part of the mobile payments ecosystem (like innovators, banks, product companies, telecom service providers, IT services companies, device manufacturers, etc.), and the future looks promising - everyone is vying to find their foot-hold in the opportunityscape. In terms of pure financials, the revenue models typically translate into a share of the transaction fees. So transaction volumes will be key to success.

However, with new solution launches every other day, the focus is on consumer acquisition strategies. And every mollet solution innovator knows that for mass customer acquisition, nothing works better than “freebies”. So almost every single player is giving unimaginable offers and deals, to capture the customer base. But if the long term monetization strategy is unclear, then your guess is as good as mine on who will survive, sustain and succeed in the mollet race?

Did I miss something? What do you think is the most important for mass adoption of the mollets? Leave a comment to let me know..

Note: Views expressed in this blog are the author’s personal views only


A Mollet for the Masses?

Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 22 July, 2015, 06:451 like 1 like

Brilliant piece Nischala, critically important points for getting the experience right for consumers and merchants. 

Nischala Murthy Kaushik
Nischala Murthy Kaushik - Wipro Ltd. - Noida 22 July, 2015, 08:15Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Thank you so much Charmaine.. Much appreciate your comment

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 22 July, 2015, 16:02Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

All these factors will become important after mobile wallets have crossed the immediate hurdle, namely, provide a compelling reason for people to ditch their physical wallets.