When Should Competitors Play Together? When it Affects Your Wallet.

With innovation and the introduction of new technology, sometimes it does make sense for competitors to work together in order to clearly convey what changes are afoot.  We would have thought that the major studios would have understood that (based on previous learnings from the HD-DVD/Blu-ray debacle) as they are set to launch titles equipped with UltraViolet (digital content cloud storage) – beginning this week with Warner Brothers’ release of HORRIBLE BOSSES and GREEN LANTERN. Yet, the industry has already splintered before its begun with Disney launching their own cloud storage system outside of UltraViolet, Apple deciding they’re not going to participate and all of the studios setting up disparate locations and access gateways/experiences for accessing their UltraViolet content. So, when these huge competitors really need to pull together to introduce a consistent product in the attempt to generate adoption, they are putting themselves further behind the 8-ball by not working more closely together to create a unified or uniform experience. While the studios may have shot themselves in the foot – we’ll have to see if time proves that in the end – it is certainly an educational opportunity when it comes to the forthcoming ramp-up of Digital Wallets. Industries really need to make sure that consumers – and even each other – are given a consistent bill of goods in order to optimize adoption.

Digital Wallets are, in some form or another, being developed by banks, credit card companies and others to enable users to keep credit cards and coupons stored digitally in their mobile phones for simple POS transactions using Near Field Communications (NFC), RFID or other. But, it seems we already have a problem with this description as a digital wallet’s functionality is not clear amongst all of the players.  As seen in a recent Survey by the company, Compete, there is confusion about what the Digital Wallet really means and therefore skews responses on intent-to-use questions.  It also illustrates how much education is still needed for consumers and businesses alike.

In the survey, users were asked about their feelings on managing bank accounts, bill-pay, transactions, deposits and more on their mobile phones – a lot of which are mobile extensions of what can be done online – as a product of Digital Wallets.  Many banks already offer this and do not consider them to be part of a Digital Wallet, rather mobile apps that grant secure access to their bank account.  As such, a lot of the survey was misguided because it focused on these components more than the storage of cards and coupons and the simplified transactions that will be possible with Digital Wallets.

Image Sourced from theberryfix.com

The heading of their blog recapping the survey intoned that “Consumers are hesitant”, when it could be figured that they are just unclear about what is a Digital Wallet and what is Mobile Banking. While Compete referred to Google’s Wallet product, they muddied up the research that was outside of its parameters and tried to assign usage intent to the product.  The main information they showed was intent to use or adopt based on incorrect parameters so they are somewhat irrelevant.  With that being said, it is interesting to see that the connectivity or speed issue is the largest concern.

When they do get into some of the exact features, there are promising responses.  But again, they are muddied by what else is presented as wallet features:

Tap and Pay and Couponing are the two of the strongest of all the features.  The biggest challenge is getting users to adopt the technologies in the first place. Once they start using their phone as a mobile wallet, they do so often, according to Compete. Some 6% of consumers using mobile “tap and pay” services do so each day, and another 36%, weekly. And nearly nine out of 10 (87%) people who use mobile coupons do so at least once a month.

For as much as Compete was looking to shed light on something important, they might have made a hurdle even more challenging by posting a headline that puts doubt on a product unfairly.

Just as any individual company must work to maintain and communicate the message, sectors should be just as steadfast about communicating and clarifying the message.  Just as news cycles bring ideas to the forefront – whether correct or not – and then present follow-up on the proverbial “page four,” the same effect could be had as new products are introduced and people start making decisions on what they intend to do without all the information (just check all the iPhone 5 buzz before the 4S was announced.)  In this day an age, industry cannot allow the proliferation of mis-information – even if they are not yet absolutely clear on what their product is.  It is certainly harder to clean up mis-information, but it is even harder to do so when many different companies are after the same goal yet communicating with less than a clear voice.  A time like this is certainly one where the competitors should be looking to play together as much as they can to optimize their investments and future.

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2 responses to “When Should Competitors Play Together? When it Affects Your Wallet.

  1. As the author of the Compete study, you won’t be surprised that I respectfully disagree with your narrower definition of digital wallet. A digital wallet refers to an electronic device that allows an individual to make electronic commerce transactions. This can include purchasing items on-line with a smartphone via app or NFC. In addition, digital wallet services include storing financial and other personal credentials, couponing, and many other services that would broadly replace a traditional wallet. Increasingly, digital wallets are being developed not just for basic financial transactions but to also authenticate the holder’s credentials.

    I also respectfully disagree that respondents were confused by the term “mobile wallet” and that it was muddied. The term “mobile wallet” was never used in the survey, for exactly this reason. Instead, specific services were asked about individual financial products. Thus, a respondent would only be asked about mobile banking services in mobile banking and mobile credit card services would only be asked in the mobile credit cards section. Additionally, examples of the service were included.

    I am happy to share the questions related to the above graphs, so you can feel more confident in the results. Additionally, I am happy to agree to disagree on the definition of mobile wallet.

    Jennifer Johnston Canfield
    Compete Financial Services Practice

    • Jennifer, I completely respect your opinion on this. My concern was more related to the headlines generated by this and the confusion it will also lead to. I appreciate that all of the findings cannot easily be shown in a summary or in other’s reporting on the study, but it is the general ideas presented that stick around the most. With all of the information shown together, it seems like the study was about not just a method for commerce transactions, but for banking management and other pieces that can also be done via computer. Additionally, my point was based more on my knowledge that financial institutions are struggling with grasping what a digital wallet should be and what role they play in it. Rather than looking at it competitively, perhaps they should work together as an industry to figure it out so that they wouldn’t run into the issues that the entertainment industry has run into when it comes to technological innovations.

      Thanks for both the presentation of your findings and the open disucssion about it. It is truly a benefit to us all.

      Jonathan Tavss

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