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2017 Will Be the Year of Customer Experience

We’re just a few weeks into 2017 and the year is already shaping up to be a very exciting one. We’ve seen a wide range of technology and new inventions changing the market one way or another. For example, you can now order everyday items with just a push of a button, without even leaving the comfort of your home. Refrigerators can tell you the items you need to buy using cameras and smart sensors.

All of these changes are good for both companies and consumers. They are geared towards one main goal: improving customer experience.

Streamlined Flow of Purchase

It is not a secret that simplifying the checkout process, both online and offline, is a constant process. The simpler the checkout process, the more chances customers will complete the sale. Online stores used to have several steps in their checkout process. Personal details, additional offers and even surveys used to get in the way of customers completing the sale. Today, a push of a button is all it takes for customers to order the items they need.

The same changes are happening offline. After the introduction of automated cashier and contactless payments, the industry is trying to find new ways of simplifying the process. Amazon is teasing the concept of an Amazon brick-and-mortar store, where customers can pay directly using their Amazon account. The use of wearables and solutions such as those we offer here at FitPay are also growing rapidly.

It won’t be long before we can walk into a store, pick up the items we need and walk out without having to worry about paying. The system and multiple scanners will be doing all of the hard work of recording the items customers picked up and deducting payments automatically. Some experts even believe this next jump could happen in 2017.

Offline Businesses Going Online

A lot of business owners and professionals are going back to school and brushing up on their business skills. AACSB online MBA programs have been very popular over the last few years, especially with universities such as Rutgers Online opening their courses to more students. An online MBA degree helps business owners update their business skills.

Thanks to local SEO and internet marketing in general, a lot of offline, local businesses are now going online. It starts with the simple task of making the local business more discoverable and attracting new customers. Today, more businesses are opening their own online storefronts to allow customers to buy their products and services directly. This is another shift that will be very popular in 2017.

Personalization

Last, but certainly not least, we have personalization. Personalized treatments, next-level services and other similar approaches are being used to separate one brand from the other. Customer experience has become very important. The only way you can stay ahead of the market and remain competitive is by offering customers an experience they value and remember. 2017 will be the year of customer experience indeed.

wearables for kids

When it comes to wearables, maybe we should be thinking small…

By Michael Orlando, CEO, Fit Pay, Inc.

In December of 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics did a study on device usage in kids and found that 75 percent of the kids surveyed had their own smartphones and 96.6 percent had used a smartphone or similar device. The kids they surveyed were 4 years old and younger. That may skew young, but Influence Central did another study and found that the average age that kids get their smartphones is 10.

So, in a nutshell, young kids own and use devices. This age group, however, is an untapped market for wearable devices.

Google “wearable devices for kids” and nearly every search result is for GPS trackers for parents. It doesn’t make sense that this is the primary product offering when you consider the size of the market. The NPD Group puts the U.S. “youth electronics” market at almost $750 million for 2015 (and they’re really talking about electronic toys). Combine that with devices and the market opportunity is staggering.

I think the scale of this opportunity will push the wearables industry toward creating products explicitly for kids. And there are two existing products that show how wearable devices for kids have a wide range of potential use cases: Disney’s Magic Band and Pizza Hut’s NFC Tattoos.

I have a friend who’s getting ready to take her two kids on a Disney cruise. The thing she keeps talking about? The Magic Band. “Because they put it on and go, but I know where they are and what they’re doing.” The Magic Band is a bracelet that allows kids to access their room, use their Fast Pass, charge items to their account, etc. Essentially, it’s a wearable equipped with payments, ticketing and entry. But it only works at Disney.

It’s just a matter of time until someone creates a similar wearable that gives parents and kids that freedom and convenience in everyday life. It’ll have pre-paid or reloadable payments, transit access, school IDs, lunch money, whatever, and kids will like it because it gives them autonomy…and money. Parents will like it because it’s hard to lose and easy to monitor (and you could even throw in the GPS).

My other favorite kid item isn’t even a kid item. It was a marketing gimmick, but I think it has a lot of potential. Last October, Pizza Hut UK created a temporary tattoo that could order the wearer’s pizza of choice and deliver it to their (preprogrammed) location. The tattoos were equipped with NFC and QR technology and worked with the user’s smartphone. It wasn’t the sleekest system in the world (because what if you’re not in the mood for pepperoni?) but it was pretty clever.

Imagine your 10-year-old was going to Chuck E. Cheese and you could buy a temporary tattoo worth 30 tokens. I can also envision a pack of tattoos worth small dollar amounts sold with the gift cards in the grocery store. It’s an idea that seems ripe for expansion.

We, as an industry, are not yet creating and marketing wearable products designed specifically for kids. But I think it’s coming…soon.

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Mobile Payment Security: Perception vs. Reality

By Michael Orlando, CEO, Fit Pay, Inc.

Less than a year ago, ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association) released the results of their 2015 Mobile Payment Security Study. This study surveyed roughly 900 “cybersecurity experts” and asked them about mobile payment security. Seventy seven percent of the respondents were either unsure or thought mobile payments were not secure, and 87 percent said that they expected to see an increase in mobile payment data breaches in 2016.

Last month, ISACA released another report countering that very finding and describing mobile payment security measures like tokenization and two-factor authentication as the safest option in payments.

The first report prompted a flurry of articles about how mobile payments were slow to catch on because of these security concerns. The second report has not generated nearly as much attention. I hope that will change and perceptions about mobile payment security will more closely match the reality, which is that contactless mobile payments are much more secure than traditional magnetic stripe transactions.

It’s worth noting that ISACA didn’t release a study of actual mobile payment security, nor did they claim to. They conducted a survey of people’s feelings about mobile payment security. So, in reality, these are perceptions—from cyber security experts. And if the experts feel that way, you can bet consumers and merchants do as well.

So, if we are to gain broad acceptance of mobile payments, as an industry we need to work hard to continually change perceptions and educate consumers about how mobile payment providers keep their data safe.

The truth is mobile payments, especially contactless mobile payments, are among the safest forms of payment currently available.

The vulnerability of magnetic stripe transactions is well documented. What makes this technology, which is by far the most-widely used, susceptible to a breach is that the stored data, the actual card number and expiration date, is static and shared at the point of sale, exposing it to malware in the local machine.

EMV chip cards, affectionately known as chip-and-pin, have significantly improved this security situation. EMV cards use encryption to protect data, and require either a PIN or signature. Using this two-factor authentication is much safer than swiping a magnetic stripe. However, if you’re swiping your chip-and-pin card – as many retailers still have customers do – you have just negated these security measures. And, as researchers from NCR demonstrated at the annual Black Hat hacker conference in Las Vegas in August, even EMV technology can be compromised.

Contactless mobile payments uses two-factor authentication and tokenization, which does not expose card data at the point of sale, making it more difficult to hack. Tokenized contactless transactions are fundamentally more secure, than traditional mag-stripe swiped transactions. If fact, the NCR researchers at Black Hat recommended that consumers pay with contactless mobile payment systems like Apple Pay, which uses the same tokenization technology that Android Pay and FitPay have implemented.

Does that mean mobile payments are “The Winner in Payment Security” as ISACA’s report suggested? I think so, but data security threats are constantly evolving. There is no one-time solution for payment security. We must be continually finding new ways to keep payment transactions and consumers’ card data safe from attack.

Ultimately, I believe that wider adoption of contactless payments will make paying for things faster, more convenient… and much safer for consumers and merchants. The challenge for the industry is to stay ahead of the latest threats and to help separate perception from reality when it comes to mobile payment security.

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Michael Orlando is Co-founder and CEO of Fit Pay, Inc., a white-label technology platform that adds contactless payment capabilities to wearable devices—with very little start up time, no investment in software development and instant access to the leading card networks. FitPay was named a Gartner “Cool Vendor” in consumer financial services for 2016. Learn more at www.fit-pay.com, or follow FitPay on Twitter.

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The Changing Payment Ecosystem

By Michael Orlando, CEO, Fit Pay, Inc.

How consumers pay, and what they pay with, is changing. The growth of contactless and mobile payment options and new attitudes about payments among Millennials are forcing the traditional payment paradigm to evolve. The way in which people pay is now being driven more by how they live and less by what’s in their wallet. This new payment ecosystem will introduce a whole new level of convenience and security for consumers, and tremendous benefits for retailers.

Evolution can be slow, but we’re closer to a new payment paradigm than you might think, and we have the Millennials to thank for that. They want to be able to grab a coffee after a run, and pay with their smartwatches, or foot the bill for a night on the town with their phones, and many of them already do. Twenty-three percent of Millennials use contactless payments at least once a week. That’s second only to higher income individuals, 38 percent of who tap and pay at least once a week.1

Millennials are also driving greater acceptance of alternative payment options by virtue of their aversion to credit cards. Only 33 percent of people 18 – 29 have a credit card, as opposed to 55 percent of adults ages 30 – 49, and 62 percent ages 50 – 64.2 Millennials are using alternative payments to avoid debt and manage spending, and in the process, forcing change.

Millennials may be driving the market, but all consumers will benefit from the new ecosystem. Contactless payments are faster and easier, and because many new payment methods don’t share credit card information at the point of sale (POS), they’re more secure.

Contactless payments also produce significantly less “friction” at the POS than traditional payment methods. While the overall payment experience has yet to be transformed into something completely frictionless (If you’ve ever felt the ease of stepping out of an Uber car without having to pull out your wallet, or experienced the joy of the MagicBand at Disney World, you know what I mean by completely frictionless), more mobile and contactless payment options are making the consumer payment experience better and better.

So what does that mean for business? Today, contactless payments are at $6.70 Billion and they’re estimated to grow to more than $17.56 Billion by 2021.3 The mobile payments market as a whole is estimated to exceed $1 Trillion by 2019.4 That kind of rapid growth means opportunities for retailers: faster checkout lines, reduced risk of data breaches, the ability to make paying a positive experience, and, perhaps most importantly, greater opportunities for consumer engagement.

Consider Starbucks. They tied their customer loyalty program into their mobile app so that customers could not only use the app to pay, but earn rewards when they did it. Payments through their mobile app went from 2.1 percent of US retail sales to 21 percent in one year.5

 It also means opportunities for new entrants to capture a piece of the trillion-dollar payment industry. With the ability to add secure payment capabilities to a wider range of devices, more players can now participate in the payment ecosystem, enabling them to not only build a stronger, more sticky relationships with their customers, but also to create new and recurring revenue streams.

It may take time before we say, “goodbye” to our cash and plastic credit cards, but mobile payments today look a lot like ecommerce circa 1997. The snowball has started to roll down the mountain. And for those are willing to step into the payments space, it means the opportunity shape this transformation.

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Michael Orlando is Co-Founder and CEO of Fit Pay, Inc., a white-label technology platform that adds contactless payment capabilities to wearable devices—with very little start up time, no investment in software development and instant access to the leading card networks. FitPay was named a Gartner “Cool Vendor” in consumer financial services for 2016. Learn more at www.fit-pay.com, or follow Fit Pay on Twitter.

 

  1. https://www.accenture.com/t20151021T165757__w__/us-en/_acnmedia/Accenture/next-gen/na-payment-survey/pdfs/Accenture-Digital-Payments-Survey-North-America-Accenture-Executive-Summary.pdf
  2. http://www.bankrate.com/finance/consumer-index/money-pulse-0616.aspx
  3. http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/contactless-payments-market-1313.html
  4. http://www.nfcworld.com/2016/02/04/341939/global-mobile-payment-revenue-to-hit-620bn-in-2016/
  5. http://www.seattletimes.com/business/technology/starbucks-secret-on-mobile-payments/