If nothing else is happening relating to mobile payments, the trusty old cash register is under a full-blown assault. Just within the last few days, several major mobile payment providers took aim at the old physical money changing machine. Square launched its new stand -- called, what else: Square Stand - for IPads, the hot checkout device of choice. The device comes with a card reader, of course, and features accessories like kitchen printers, barcode scanners and cash drawers, just like that old cash register.
Companies continue to find innovative ways to incent and reward mobile commerce behaviors. Visa this week introduced an enhancement to its Visa Offers program, which allows merchants who take Visa credit cards to send targeted rewards to Visa cardholders. After a consumer opts in to receive offers -- another totally separate challenge in itself -- merchants can send targeted offers to Visa cardholders.
Mobile for commerce keeps popping up in numerous new places. By now, we're getting used to seeing iPads being used as checkout devices at small businesses and mobile payment devices in taxis. Seeing LevelUp used at all the concession stands in the Austin convention center at the recent SXSW was kind of expected, even if not every customer used it. I saw tablet commerce in action again on my flight from Dallas to Las Vegas yesterday.
When it comes to mobile commerce, small businesses sometimes can benefit from bigger back-end technologies. I recently caught up with the person who leveraged location to show where potential customers could find their products, all in very limited supply. California tequila-maker Tres Agaves Products ran a test in three states to see if they could link mobile consumers to one of their limited-distribution products. Like many small businesses, Tres Agaves wasn't advanced along the mobile commerce chain, especially given that the company is only a few years old.
Mobile apps relating to loyalty programs may give retailers an edge over showrooming. Deep inside a new study analyzing how brands connect and build loyalty with their customers is an interesting piece of mobile commerce insight. The 2013 Maritz Loyalty Report just out comprised a survey of 6,000 consumers involving loyalty programs at retail, grocery, credit cards, co-brands, travel and hospitality and found the average member is in seven programs. While 9 out of 10 consumers want to receive communications from their loyalty programs, it was the mobile attitude data that caught my eye.
There obviously are multiple issues around the mobile payments, many dealing with consumer adoption. Last night, I got to participate in a one-hour Twitter chat dealing with some of the specifics relating to opportunities and impediments around forward movement. In on the chat were John Tuders, Senior Vice President, Product & Payments Innovation Executive at Bank of America, and Ken Moy, Group Senior Vice President of Emerging Payments at MasterCard Worldwide, the two entities that organized the chat, moderated by Todd Wasserman, Mashable's business editor.
Though we wrote about the 10% world of mobile commerce yesterday, it doesn't mean commerce isn't growing in some substantial ways. A new report out today indicates that some retailers are seeing significant year-over-year growth, to the tune of an 85% increase in orders via smartphones. The research is based on 76 million Web visits, 511 million page views and 1.2 million orders totaling $163 million. The index was organized by m-commerce platform provider Branding Brand over a group of 18 major retailers whose commerce sites they developed specifically for mobile commerce.
Samsung's hot, new Galaxy S4 has a feature that in many ways mirrors the mobile commerce marketplace. It's called Easy Mode and when you switch the phone to it, the device provides large buttons to only those features that might be most useful, such as camera, phone, internet, contacts, phone and calendar. While there are 7 billion mobile phones globally, most of the mobile commerce marketplace seems to be operating in Easy Mode.
The use of NFC for mobile payments is a bit of a chicken and egg battle. Companies involved in mobile payments want to use NFC-enabled phones but most people don't yet have them. However, the global volume of NFC-enabled smartphones will more than double this year, according to Strategy Analytics, and this without Apple yet being on board. Next year, the number of NFC-enabled devices will pass 500 million, according to ABI Research. Bottom line is there will be a lot of phones with the technology in the foreseeable future.
Augmented Reality (AR) may have found a place to happen. When AR was first seen and used a few years ago, it was generally showcased by data overlays over objects or places seen through the phone's camera. The general ideas was that you could aim a phone camera at a building and see all the associated information about the building on the screen in front of the image, essentially augmenting the reality of the building you were looking at. While fun to do the first time or two, the idea didn't catch on at any kind of scale.