Posts Tagged ‘facebook’
In case you haven’t heard, Apple announced its upcoming mobile wallet service. It will be introduced through an app called Passbook with the release of its next iPhone. The app will allow users to store loyalty cards, event tickets, and coupons in the app. The company’s intentions are somewhat unclear, but experts seem to think this positions Apple to move into mobile payments mainly because it’s not a huge leap from storing loyalty cards to storing credit cards. And consumers already trust Apple – the company has 400 million credit cards on file through iTunes, so the transition could be relatively seamless.
Apple will enter an already crowded space. Google, of course, has been offering Google Wallet for a year now. The offering is limited by the fact that it works only with Sprint on a handful of phones, with one payment card – the Citi Mastercard – and can only be used where Mastercard’s PayPass system is used. Sprint has announced its intention to introduce its own mobile wallet, and it’s unclear how that will affect the mobile relationship. Isis has been in development for almost a year, and is a partnership between T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T. American Express cardholders will be able to use the Isis mobile wallet, along with Chase, Capital One and Barclay cardholders. The service is scheduled to begin testing this summer in Salt Lake City and Austin, TX.
And then there’s Facebook. It’s hard to imagine that the company would actually move into the mobile wallet space. However, the company does seem to want a piece of the action, although probably most likely in the form of processing payments, rather than creating mobile wallet products for consumers. It recently moved away from its virtual currency to real money – something that the experts think is an indication of the company’s intentions to move into the payment space. And in a survey – this one by Cisco – 30% of consumers surveyed said they might one day use Facebook for banking services if they were offered. In terms of specific types of banking products, 14% said they would use a Facebook prepaid account they could reload, 8% would consider using a Facebook checking account or debit card, and 5% would consider a savings account or online bill-payment service. Despite the Cisco survey, there’s no indication that the company plans to provide traditional banking services. The company has also obtained money transmitter licenses in 15 states which are required for companies that keep, retrieve or transfer money. Additionally, any eWallet service would require a money transmitter license. The general consensus is that the licenses are an indication that Facebook plans to create a wider payment system, but guesses on the specifics vary widely.
Despite a large number of surveys done on the subject, it’s somewhat unclear how consumers feel about mobile payments. Starbucks is certainly a success story that no other retailer has been able to match. The app launched in January, 2011 and by the beginning of December 2012 the company stated that there had been 26 million transactions using the app. According to a study by the Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting group, which surveyed 600 consumers, 48% were “interested” in mobile wallets. Of those, 53% said they would prefer an alternate provider over their primary bank. But according to a survey by IDC, of consumers who have a phone enabled with Near Field Communications, only 2% are expected to use them for purchases in 2012.
The technology landscape is certainly littered with product failures. Some because of bad marketing approaches, some had fatal design flaws, and some because consumers just weren’t ready. But sometimes these product failures pave the way for the future. Remember Apple’s Newton? It was a complete flop, but in retrospect provided valuable information to make the iPad the huge success that it is. When Apple announced the release of the iPad, many naysayers talked about the failed Newton. Many of today’s mobile wallet players most likely won’t be around in the future. But most of them will probably provide valuable information on how to construct and offer a mobile wallet to consumers. Despite less than enthusiastic consumer sentiment, the mobile wallet is destined to happen sooner rather than later.
Dutch airline KLM is currently developing an innovative tool that will allow passengers to choose who they sit next to on flights in 2012. The passengers will be able to do this by accessing other passengers’ profiles, who have opt-ed in for this service on Facebook or LinkedIn.
The service is aptly named “Meet and Seat”. It will allow passengers to pick whom they will seat next to on an airline flight based on interests, professions, or even looks. However, the program might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Imagine a fellow business traveler picks another business traveler thinking that they will have a quiet and peaceful flight, but it turns out the fellow business passenger gives them a non-stop sales pitch throughout the entire flight. Or for a single person looking to meet another single person, the situation could turn into an awkward experience that neither person can escape from for the rest of the flight. The question is will the service resonate and succeed with passengers?
AirTroductions, an online dating service for frequent fliers, offered a similar service to meet fellow travelers back in 2006. However, the service appeared to never really take off and they rebranded their name to TripLife. TripLife is the same concept, but they have now expanded the scope past just the airplane and the airport. TripLife members can meet someone at any point before and during travel, such as at a hotel bar or restaurant.
However, this is likely just the beginning for social media innovation in the blue skies. For example, Malaysia Airlines released a service on Facebook to see if friends are visiting a similar destination or if friends are taking the same flight at the same time. Some airlines, like Virgin America, even offer a seat-to-seat text chat service through their in-flight entertainment system.
Will any of these services take off and will customers want to use the service? One never knows. However, other companies, like airline Virgin Atlantic, have expressed interest in the idea. One could easily envision a Virgin Atlantic flyer meeting another passenger at the bar in-flight on the plane. As social media continues to grow, I imagine that we will see more of this type of innovation and marketing from other travel companies. I believe this service will be a big hit with young, single people. Other travel industries, for example cruise ships, could also offer similar services. I know I will not be requesting to sit with another passenger anytime soon since the only person I want to request to sit next to is my wife.