The future of mobile payments is contactless

Mobile payments may well be set for a period of explosive growth, according to the recent Guardian article “Mobile payments: the brave new cashless future”, but it won’t just be down to Apple Pay, despite its apparent success since launching in the US in October of last year.

Yes, Apple Pay might be convenient and secure – two of the three consumer-centric attributes which MasterCard’s Jorn Lambert identified in the same article as key to the success of m-payments – given its reliance on a tokenized set of card credentials in an embedded Secure Element, a Touch ID payment authorisation process and a slick user interface. However, it falls short when it comes to the third attribute identified by Lambert, namely ubiquity. Never mind that Apple Pay is only accepted at the 3% of US retail terminals which have been upgraded to support contactless payments, it is also only available today on the iPhone 6 (and soon on the iPhone 5 for anyone who pairs it with an Apple Watch) so it definitely won’t be everyone’s favourite way to pay, at least in the short term.

Separately, Kevin Dallas of Worldpay took the view that merchants need to ensure that they partner with the “right” payment app since research suggests that consumers will only load one or two payment apps on their phones to avoid confusion. Since in-store retail payments still account for over 90% of all payment transactions by dollar volume, we would argue that the “right” mobile payment app for merchants to support is one which is optimised for use at a point of sale (POS) terminal. The following might help those merchants who are still sitting on the payments app fence come to the right decision:

  • Apple Pay was launched to support both in-app and tokenized in-store NFC (contactless) payments
  • Samsung Pay has just been launched to support both NFC and magnetic secure transmission technology (MST)
  • Google have recently announced support for Android Pay which uses NFC and tokenization
  • MasterCard announced (Sept 2014) that all legacy POS devices in Europe must support contactless payments by 1 January 2020, with all new POS devices to be compliant from the start of 2016

Merchants who today accept card payments will – in five years or less – be accepting contactless card and mobile payments. Those merchants who today do not accept cards but who want to accept mobile payments would do well to consider a future where smartphone penetration is expected to reach 6bn subscriptions by 2020, where the dominant handset models will be mobile payment and NFC-compliant and where their competitors are servicing customers with these handsets at contactless POS terminals for both low and high value transactions.

That’s right: the future of mobile payments isn’t cashless, it’s contactless.

International Hookup

It turns out there is an international effort to turn Sopra Steria into a user driven powerhouse, not just a technology driven one.

During this call we were organised and led by Eli, Head of UX and design at Sopra Steria Norway, who took us through some case studies and live projects while detailing the methods and challenges involved during each project. As we now know with Norway, regulations were put in place last year to heighten the level at which usability and accessibility should be developed for any public facing material. This has led to refined design patterns which the team in Norway now use as best practice, some examples include:

norway site

NYE Metoder

ehelse

Helsedirektoratet

The team there have worked extensively with local government and the public sector, just like we have. Designing for these kinds of clients can be challenging because of regulations and guidelines such as GDS, so having knowledge of their current state and best practices in place for the team is vital.

One of the ‘best practices’ that I saw from the Norway team was an online style guide created in HTML & CSS which meant that, within any project, the development team could access this site, ‘Inspect element’ and re-use the standardised library of elements, object, styles and fonts. A great bit of housekeeping that would prove valuable in any situation.

We gained some more input from Italy by Max Ramaciotti who is Chief digital officer for the company in that locale. He took us through some of the challenges that they have faced, which are much the same no matter where you practice, and he was talking about how “digital design is still quite young in Italy”. We can relate to this in the way that, yes the country knows about it and people are understanding of the main concepts, but companies still aren’t tuned in enough to really understand the true impact and advantage of well thought out strategy in that area.

General trends such as Agile development and responsive design are apparent within all teams in our sister countries, a hunger for defining and refining approaches and resources for these areas is obvious.

I don’t know if it should be obvious or a real surprise that the condition of things is quite similar across the whole of Europe.

This conference call was conducted on ‘gottomeeting’, my first time using it and providing you understand what the ‘mute’ button is for, it was great to link people in for chat, webcam and audio. The call was quickly planned by Eli in Norway just to make contact with the other resources in the company, this can be frequent call however and there is already ambition to keep it going. I think we could gain a lot out of it if we make it once or twice a month and include the whole team, maybe taking shifts per call etc. It could be our version of the ‘Agile coaching call’ which I know no-one here is really interested in because of the topic, I’m sure a UX version would be far more intriguing.

I’ll keep you guys posted with updates and any further developments for this activity.

PS If this really takes off and evolves, I want to be in meetings all day everyday!.. Meeting Wearables

Why digital transformation? My current three key questions – what are yours?

i) What things CAN’T your customers or employees do on their own mobiles to use or serve your products and services?

ii) Do you have one application that gives your employees all the RIGHT information about the relationship you have with a specific customer or client?

iii) Is there is one area of your business (no matter how small or large) that if improved to WORK SMARTER could deliver big benefits quickly for customers and/or employees?

Answering one or more of these questions can help a client find the critical pain points that could be addressed using new ways of working supported by digital technology – the power of digital transformation!

Let me know your top three…

How can digital lead to strategic stagnation? And how to avoid it

Responding proactively in an instant to an individual user is arguably at the heart of the digital experience.

But as a result are companies being increasingly tactical in their outlook?

I use different digital banking services from two major high street banks yet their digital channels practically look and feel the same – the difference is the product not the channel.

The other day I was comparing prices for a product across different on-line retailers; if it wasn’t for their different logos the experience was pretty much uniform across all of them. Even the big data(?) driving my personalised experience felt repetitive – probably because they were all using the same personal and social information to engage me.

I expect government information to be available digitally and all in one place – an intuitive experience like on-line retail. As a user I don’t necessarily care about how that information is produced as long as it’s accurate and doesn’t require me to go anywhere else.

To succeed, companies and organisations need to respond quicker, faster and smarter to my needs – a tactical, not a strategic response. And that’s just for one user; is there a risk that chasing competitive advantage by meeting the tactical needs of thousands or millions of users could result in a company not having sufficient resources to adapt strategically when further market disruptions occur? Or alternatively end up being dependant on technology change to innovate, differentiating the user experience rather than the company’s own products and services?

What ways can companies and organisations enjoy the benefits of digital transformation while keeping the right tactical AND strategic focus for their business?

  1. The old rules still apply: competitive advantage still comes from increasing differentiation and managing cost – give your customers what they want short- and long-term using digital only where it adds value (not the other way round)
  2. Digital is immature; it needs your guidance: use the same measures and indicators for offline vs digital channels and regularly compare their relative performance to each other (and competitors). This should indicate if your digital strategy implementation is moving in the right long term direction rather than delivering only short term tactical benefits
  3. Live and breathe Agile – even strategically; it’s not easy to move from Waterfall but the benefits of being responsive, open about failing fast enables genuine learning that creates innovation that delivers sustainable tangible business benefits

Let me know what you think…

Championing the cause for small data

There has been much said and discussed about Big Data; combined with advanced analytics it is indeed a powerful set of techniques and does allow an incredible insight into customer behaviour and needs with the ability to gain control of previously impenetrable piles of information.

I would, however, like to champion a new cause: Small Data. The fundamental problem with Big Data as an applied science is that it is designed first and foremost to benefit the business that is selling or serving the customer. Loyalty cards may have direct consumer benefits, but the insights and power that is gained by the retailer is disproportionate. It’s why many consumers are turning away from yet another card (or app) to carry with them, to manage their points and to feel frustrated when the offer has just expired or the card is left at home. Likewise insights into seasonal, geographical or product based segmentation patterns can be of great use to a business, but why does a customer care? Indirectly the consumer may benefit from this as store patterns evolve, new products are introduced and contact centre handling times may change, but being counted as an aggregated statistic does not bring good customer experience as a direct consequence.

The data that interest customers is their data, their “world” – small data that is focused around their needs and wants:

  • It’s data that differentiates them
  • It’s data that makes it personal, but not too personal, depending on individual perceptions
  • It’s data that helps drive a good customer experience at the moments of truth

If businesses and organisations can see the whole experience from the customers’ perspective and experiences, then the collective whole – the big data picture – would be a summation of great customer experiences that would truly provide insight. It would make the customer feel that they were not just contributing to a gigantic data machine to increase the bottom line of a company, but give them recognition that each small sale and each good customer service interaction builds the experience that big data can then record as a true revolution in how to use data with the customer at the centre.

A smarter way to breakfast

This morning I attended a ‘Breakfast briefing’ along with Zoe Kosmadoudi, with our good pals ‘User Vision’.

Knowing the expertise this company have and having attended a ‘World Usability Day’ event previously, I was quite interested in what this kind of morning session would offer. A great format, generally lasting an hour from 8am, it fits nicely in before setting off for another day at work. It really gives an interesting topic of thought for the day and gets your mind engaged with passionate things before setting your to-do list for the day.

This mornings topic of convo was “Maturing UX in our organisations”, an event which had been re-held as the first one a few weeks back was booked out. The main concept here was to do with the challenges we face in driving UX or user centered design, right into the heart of our organisations and get the buy-in it well deserves.

Interesting quote “At this point in time, Awareness of UX is high while the patience level is very low”. People know it and want it now!

We looked at the factors with which certain organisations ‘believe’ they are operating user experience design properly and how this is seldom true.

A valuable take-away was the concept of ‘UX maturity’ and while utilising a progression chart, created by one of Stephen Dennings (User Vision UX) friends at Google, we were able to look at the main points of what really shows how mature an organisation is with UX. Starting from immature of course, where there are no formalised approaches defined and very little professional UX being practiced, to ‘Fully mature’ where set principles have been put in place which the whole organisation understands, colleagues are kept up to date and trained in the concepts of UX, and there are an efficient number of professional UX resources which can be deployed on-site and offer valuable, best-practice output.

Maturity scale

To support that chart there is another, one which progresses in 5 steps and is used to grade an organisation once an evaluation has been completed. As an activity we were given evaluations to complete on our own organisations, which consisted of a table of factors which relate to how well an organisation buys-in to UX. From my perspective our current efforts scored in the ‘Considered’ range, pivoting on the ‘Managed’, so effectively right in the middle. Unfortunately I didn’t get a copy of the slides which were full of points and reasons for each step or else I could better justify my choice.

Here is however my evaluation checklist, showing the factors we scored by. Feel free to conduct an evaluation yourself, I’m sure we will all have different perspectives and it would be interesting to share them.

Evaluation of Maturity

From this we were asked to choose the 3 main factors which we personally would like to see evolve the most in the near future and which we believe would get the organisation to the ‘UX Driven’ step quickest.

My choices included:

  1. Written UX strategy/Roadmap (Which of course we are working hard on right now)
  2. UX training and mentoring programs (Yet another area we are currently aiming to take further once things are signed off)
  3. Agile adaptation (This comes from my previous experience of projects which reflect the current widespread issues of mixing Agile with UX.)

This ‘Breakfast briefing’ was absolutely great and I even commended the team on having this available to the community as without it “we would be going around blind”, as in to say the resources and theoretics we share at events like this are what help us evolve UX. More shall be attended!!

Speed Networking

Pitching UX at Sopra Steria in 15 minutes, in the space of 2 hours, 8 times… equals 20 glasses of water!

Last Wednesday, Damian and I took a trip to Dundee University. We were invited to an event hosted by e-Placement Scotland that brought together employers in the IT industry and job seeking students. The aim of the day was to find students with a keen interest in UI/UX and could join our team here as an intern Edinburgh. We also used this opportunity to spread the word of all the the great things we do as a team amongst the students and other industry professionals.

We kicked off with a warm welcome from the hosts and a networking lunch with other employers. This was a great opportunity to meet people from companies all over Scotland, find out what they are doing and share experiences. Representatives from JP Morgan, Codeplay, BePositive, Blue2 and Agenor were some of the few we managed to speak to. Damian and I found ourselves to be the only User Experience focused members in the room, with a few employers seeking to cover this role that day.

The speed networking format with the students allowed time to talk to almost everyone in the room and in an ‘elevator pitch’ style. It was successful in finding those that stood out in the crowd and voiced interest in such a short time frame.

 Lynsey talking in a groupWorking to ringing bells every 15 minutes left Damian and I with loads of unfinished conversations. So much so, we had students surrounding us after. This resulted in being the last to leave the building, which can only be a good thing! (Hopefully not just because of our good spread of freebies!)
image showing team talk

This kind of event was great to represent Sopra Steria at. It not only reaps the benefits finding young talent, but we are now able to pitch the work we do in 15 minutes and have made connections with other industry professionals in Scotland.