Simplicity, usability, and fun: the recipe for the perfect mobile payment app

lIan Oosting, founder and CEO of  JMango and one of the top experts on mobile payment on the Asian market particularly in Hong Kong, explains the three simple but necessary rules for creating a successful mobile payment application. 1.Simplify 2. Make it useful 3. Make it fun These rules may be surprising when considering the… Read more »

Schermata 2014-03-12 alle 09.07.45

lIan Oosting, founder and CEO of  JMango and one of the top experts on mobile payment on the Asian market particularly in Hong Kong, explains the three simple but necessary rules for creating a successful mobile payment application.

1.Simplify
2. Make it useful
3. Make it fun

These rules may be surprising when considering the fact that they pertain to mobile payment applications but they are the results of an experiment conducted by Oosting and his research team. They asked iOS and Android users which types of applications they preferred to download and use and with these answers created a popularity classification. First place went tosocial networks like Facebook and Twitter, followed by messaging apps Whatsapp and Line, and third place went to games: Plants, Zombies, Candy Crush, and Angry Birds.

The research team asked what the reasons were for their choices, or rather, why these types of apps were so popular. The response was then summarized into the above-mentioned rules: these apps simplify the lives of users, they are useful and facilitate communication, and, above all, they are fun! According to Oosting the reason Google Wallet, for example, never took off is because according to user experience it is more complicated to use it than to pay in cash or with credit/debit cards.

Simplify. This is the top requirement when it comes to payments, in particular via mobile, because today smartphones are seen as a device that can make daily life easier by allowing us to check our emails on the run, look for interesting places near us, etc.

Ideally any mobile payment app should function like Hong Kong’s Octopus Card. There are neither Pin numbers nor passwords. The only thing that needs to be done to make a payment is to pass it over the card reader at payment points (POS). Everything, from access to public transport to acquisitions in small shops, large distribution centers and chain restaurants, can be done with the Octopus Card. Another potential solution to guarantee the security of payments that don’t require passwords or pin numbers is Coin. It is a real card that is connected to a mobile phone via Bluetooth, so if the card is lost or stolen, it is automatically blocked upon distancing itself from the mobile device. It could also be imagined that soon there could be bracelets, for example, that can connect to mobile phones via Bluetooth so that if the device is lost then the payment app can be blocked automatically.

Make it useful. This second rule is also essential for mobile payments because the management of our finances must be useful to do via mobile as opposed to other methods. There must be a daily practical reason why a critical mass of users would download a digital wallet and use it. One of these is the network of acceptance: it will be truly useful to pay with a mobile app when retailers commonly accept this form of payment.

Make it fun. And, lastly, but only in order of presentation, a mobile payment app must befun. Only in this way does word of mouth and engagement guarantee the necessary popularity for it to become mainstream. “Fun” for users means an incentive to use an application. The mechanism could work with, for example, a reward system, a mechanism that rewards the user for making transactions. Or even the gamification of the sector ( like, for example, the CheShopping initiative in Italy by CheBanca!), which permits users to receive discounts on products bought online after winning quizzes. Partnerships with well-known brands to offer exceptional discounts or limited editions solely via mobile phone acquisitions could be another fun incentive. The only limit is that we are still talking about money and the main actors who manage it are the banking and payment institutions that are often limited in terms of prerequisites and security guarantees, as well as creativity and innovation in approaching the subject of mobile payments. Oosting points out that it will take time, but the common use of mobile payments will occur and the rules explained above will hopefully help accelerate the process.