In our era, where a touch screen and white earbuds are as ubiquitous as hats at the Kentucky Derby, every industry in the world is trying to capitalize on the exponential growth of the smartphone.
Just a few years ago, Internet use was reserved for those tethered to a desk with a modem and a desktop computer. Now a growing number of consumers have the ability to log-on, search items or stream content wherever they are – 44 percent of mobile phones in the U.S. are smartphones according to a recent report from the Federal Reserve – giving them anytime, anywhere access.
One sector that sees a massive opportunity for the inevitable surgical attachment of smartphones to all of our hands is that of finance and payments. As consumers become more comfortable shopping via their mobile device, they want an extra layer of ease in the form of mobile payments. A number of companies are working to offer this, via a simple user experience that will flow seamlessly between shopping, purchasing and payment.
eBay is one company that understands the power of this consumer need – the company is integrating its core shopping experience with other pieces of its platform, such as PayPal. According to Mark Lavelle, VP at PayPal, mobile payments are spearheading the next era of consumerism, similar to the way the widespread use of credit cards revolutionized consumer spending in the late 1950s.
So what does this mean for consumers? It means there is a fundamental shift in the way we’re all perceiving money and payment. Technology has altered our mindset about waiting times – we want the best experience possible, wherever and whenever we happen to be. It means we want to be unencumbered by an excessive number of devices and identifications. It means we want to call our mom, research a restaurant and buy a car, all from the same place.
While this world is fast approaching, there are a few things holding consumers back, first and foremost being security. Concerns about the security of the technology have been the primary reason for not using mobile payments – 42 percent according to the Federal Reserve. What’s a risk-averse technophile to do?
There isn’t a true roadmap to follow in this transformational decade, where there have been, and will continue to be, rapid evolutions of technology, standards, security and privacy issues. The only thing consumers can do is get smart about their devices. Make sure you’re up to date on security offerings, and you’re not downloading any shady apps. Then, start shopping and paying, all with the touch of a screen.
-- Caitlin Cassady is a senior account executive at Airfoil Public Relations, a high tech PR agency with offices in Detroit and Silicon Valley.