“If Weve Works, Consumers Won't Notice It”
It's perhaps telling of the current state of mobile payments that the panel dedicated to the subject at the Guardian Mobile Business Summit quickly turned into a discussion of why exactly consumers have failed to adopt mobile payments.
Eden Zoller, principal analyst of telecoms consumer practice at Ovum, pointed to a worldwide survey the business intelligence firm had recently carried out. Of the 11,000 respondents, 7,000 used apps, and less than one per cent of that sample use a mobile wallet.
So why aren't people adopting the technology, and how could that be changed?
“There are too many different initiatives being launched, all of different types, which leads to confusion among consumers,” said Zoller.
This, by and large, was the consensus among the panel. Weve director Tony Moretta pointed to the fact that, despite the proliferation of announcements, not many can be used immediately – a criticism which, it must be said, could be levelled at Weve itself.
“We've been trying to get consumers to jump too far ahead,” said Stewart Roberts UK managing director at mobile card payments system iZettle. So how do we get to widespread consumer adoption, without trying to force the development?
“It's not about the technology itself, but about convincing the consumer,” said Weve's Moretta. “For something to succeed, it's got to be ubiquitous and consistent.”
As an example, Moretta pointed to his experiences with contactless cards – having been issued a new card without contactless compatibility, he rang up to ask why, and was told 'you have to ask'. His point being: for an industry which is currently held back by lack of awareness, that's a fatal error.
Riding the Weve
Moretta's presence was of particular interest, with the joint venture currently ramping up its mobile marketing offering, which seemingly took over from Project Oscar's original role as a mobile wallet service.
“The plan hasn't changed,” said Moretta. “We weren't clear enough about it to begin with, but we were always going to do this first, because the technology's there already, but we're still working towards creating a mobile wallet.”
According to Moretta, this lack of clarity was because it was waiting for such a long time to receive the green light from the EC – during which time, the various operators involved had to work on their own payment and wallet offerings – but the truth is, Weve is still a little mysterious. Its quiet rebranding from Project Oscar passed a lot of people by, and few people seem certain of what it's all about, something panel moderator jumped on, by asking what Weve will look like once it's finished, in four or five years' time.
“If Weve works, consumers won't notice it's there,” Moretta said, pointing to the fact that it's a b2b service.
On the advertising side, it means a single sales house which has access to all of the operators' inventory, something which he reckons has been holding mobile advertising back as an industry. Meanwhile, the mobile wallet services look as though they'll be individually branded – and Moretta emphasised that Weve is open to all operators, including MVNOs, going forward. As far as consumers are concerned, Weve will be invisible, and they will just be using their operator's own wallet, but it will mean a single integration, and thus a one-off initial cost, for merchants.