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Innovation through loyalty in mobile payments

With smartphones now having the bandwidth to handle sophisticated payment transactions, I see this as the year when mobile payments will really start to take off. This is down to the tremendous growth opportunity in mobile payments, not only for banks wishing to capitalise on the ubiquity of the mobile phone, but also for operators to offer their customers added functionality for their devices.

A 2009 Gartner report predicts that by 2012 the number of mobile payment users will reach more than 190 million, representing more than 3 percent of total mobile users worldwide  - making this mainstream. Barclaycard’s recent strategic partnership with Orange to offer a mobile wallet handset for payments is further proof that mobile payments are gaining momentum.

The reality is that consumers are fickle and are likely to move to the provider that offers the services that benefit them the most. This is all the more reason for card issuers and operators to use innovative loyalty programmes that differentiate themselves from the competition by providing rewards and balances in real-time. Loyalty programmes not only encourage new customers to join or use new services with the lure of earning points or rewards, but also serve as an incentive for current customers. The benefits don’t just end there, increased knowledge of customer behaviour will enable businesses to understand their preferences and work toward better serving their needs.

As I see it, loyalty solutions that bridge the gap between the mobile phone and the use of cards, and reward customers however they choose to paywill be paramount over the next few years. With users benefiting from loyalty rewards and operators, retailers and banks maintaining their customer base – it is truly a win-win situation for everyone.

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