I have recently done some more work looking at the potential of m-commerce and the end result of current developments and trends. Whilst it is true that there are instances where mobile may be a more suitable and convenient means of accessing the internet and making a purchase, overall I do not think that it is a complete replacement of traditional broadband-based e-commerce.
I wrote a recent ABI Insight detailing my thinking behind this. In short, user behaviour andpreference will likely dictate that certain usage and (higher value)transactions will more than likely continue to be conducted at home (or in the office) via a PC,laptop or WiFi-enabled tablet. As a result, e-commerce will continue to account for a greater proportion of transaction value than m-commerce.
There will be areas where this is not always goingto bethe case. For example, markets which are particularlymobile-orientated or those where mobile is the primary means of accessing the Internet.
I then started to think if this might turn out to be the casefor NFC. Will mobile (through NFC) replace traditional means of transaction, specifically cards and cash. Those providing such technology insist that this is the long-term goal but will user behaviour dictate that things will turn out otherwise?
I think that this largely depends upon two factors or conditions. Can the card networks and those enabling non-card and cash transactions developa compelling mobile user experience that is better than what we already have? By this I am not just thinking of coupons, loyalty,etc. as I think that this is a necessity. I mean, can it be better, easier/quickerand smoother than pulling out my wallet, handing over the card, entering a PIN and/or signing the receipt? I am not sure that the proposed double-tap procedure, with PIN, for medium-high value purchases is theanswer and so we may see NFC being limited to micro-payments.
The second point is how quickly and widely non-NFC based payment solutions are acceptedby the majority ofretailers at POS. This has begun in online (andmobile) channels and I am seeing initial adoption in brick-and-mortar retail premises. Will retailers and users find more benefit and identifythis as a better experience than NFC (which largely replicatees the existing transaction procedure)?
It is possible that they might - particularly if it integrates more with the online experience and transactions. If this is the case then I think that all of the delays, especially in the past two years, could have harmed the potential that we all saw for NFC and it is at risk of being usurped. I believe that mobile transactions (of one form or another) will become more common and popular and that this will impact the value of spend on bank cards, whether traditionalcards in my wallet or virtual ones inmy handset.
I think that it is now down to the card networks, and especially the MNOs, to move quickly and invest and innovate to attract both retailers as well as consumers. If they don't then theywill miss out on the pending move to mobile-based payment solutions.