Mobile Wallets and Payments: Onsite Coverage
ORLANDO, Fla. — Is now the time for mobile payments? Or is this still a big myth with no real substance for financial institutions?
A standing room-only crowd packed a large breakout room at NACHA’s Payments 2014 conference at the Orlando World Center Marriott on Tuesday to hear talkers address exactly those questions.
Moderated by Fiserv SVP Ginger Schmeltzer, the panel consisted of Jeff Dennes, head of digital at $175 billion SunTrust Bank in Atlanta, and Paul Amisano, vice president, electronic money movement and emerging payments at $182 billion BB&T in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Both speakers agreed on a key point: a lot of mobile payments already are happening; they just do not involve mobile wallets.
Amisano indicated a case in point is the wildly successful Starbucks mobile app which, he said, accounted for 11% of Starbucks’ in-store sales in 2013.
Said Schmeltzer, “We are already seeing a ton of activity on mobile phones.”
Added Dennes, “As consumers get more comfortable buying things with their phones, there may be a tipping point when it becomes more convenient for them to pay at retail point of sale with their phones.”
He openly worried that the future for financial institutions in the emerging mobile payments mix is uncertain. “A lot of innovation is happening. Financial institutions may get passed by,” said Dennes. “We have the most to lose.”
Amisano elaborated that as mobile payments and wallets become more commonplace, it will become clearer that they are not about payments per se but about enriching the overall consumer experience with better rewards and loyalty programs.
He sharply added that a confusion in today’s discussions is, “We are held hostage to the term wallet.”
There is no probable point coming when digitized credentials will replace state-issued driver’s licenses, for instance, and because of that, the phone will not soon replace the wallet, at least not entirely, suggested Dennes.
He added, “The mobile wallet is very real but it is way different from what we talked about five years ago.”
As for next steps, Amisano urged financial institutions, “Get your cards in as many wallets as possible,” meaning forge relationships with Google, PayPal, Square and others. The reason: that’s a way to fairly easily gain experience in mobile wallets.
Bottom line: mobile payments are happening, now, said the speakers, and it is up to financial institutions to have a strategy for staying relevant.