mCommerce Month Feature Two: The Importance Of The End User Experience

Convenience and Security

In the world of mobile commerce, money is being transferred constantly. It’s the entire idea; the next step up from eCommerce: buy and bank from wherever you are.

It goes without saying that the technology that is being developed and deployed to enable this next generation of finance absolutely must be secure if it is going to become the way that the world transacts financially. This is their hard earned money after all, and that isn’t even taking into account that financial institutions can’t afford to insure clients using sub-par security.

Thankfully, mobile devices have made it to the market with biometrics strong enough to secure online payments, and associations exist working constantly to ensure that high standards are adhered to in this regard. As these technologies become more pervasive, it is critically important that the goal of convenience is not left behind in the post-password dust.

Physical Convenience

Convenience is a promise made to the end user in the world of mCommerce. In terms of physical pay-with-your-phone solutions this means that a transaction needs to compete with the ease of use presented by the super convenient NFC enabled paypass featured on contemporary credit cards.

Ideally, in a store, a shopper wishing to pay with a phone will have a choice: use their phone, pay with a card or use cash. Everything is more convenient than cash, but when it comes to cards, it’s not so easy. A smartphone solution will need to be easier to use than opening a wallet and tapping a card.

PayPal is said to be developing a physical smartphone payment solution that almost miraculously does this. The idea is that with the proper infrastructure in place and the accountability of strong mobile identity, a mobile device can become its own point of sale. The end user experience in this example equates to a three step process: find the item she wants, scan it in the smartphone application, authorize payment.

The Mobile Promise

When it comes to online shopping, the competition of convenience is a little less aggressive. It is much easier to come up with a smart and convenient alternative to typing in credit card information with every purchase, or tapping in a banking password with your thumbs.

The problem: Smartphones still present a keyboard in the traditional QUERTY format, which is an interface specifically designed for typewriters. The reason for this is simplly familiarity.

Fortunately for end users, familiarity is not going to cut it in the mCommerce revolution. A smartphone is not operated using all ten of a user’s fingers, ideally any mobile transaction should be achievable using only a single appendage. This is complicated in finance where a user must enter 16 digit card numbers and eight character passwords.

An ideal mCommerce solution is going to allow for secure account access, transaction or payment with the maximum requirement of one finger.

The Samsung Galaxy S5 already achieves this with its fingerprint biometric PayPal functionality.

In some cases, like a current pilot project at U.S. Bank, voice biometrics in concert with a virtual assistant is allowing for complete secure hands-free banking. This particular example comes courtesy of Nuance Communications, a company publicly dedicated to realizing this mobile promise.

Retail Therapy

In the end, an mCommerce solution needs to be secure before it makes it to the hands of a user, but if mobile payment and banking is going to gain the proper traction it absolutely must be convenient by design. This is just as important as security.

To find an example, take a look at the mobile fine art buying platform Wondereur. The creators of this successful app understand what their users look for when they buy art: emotional connection.

The Wondereur mobile app is designed at every point to do two things: connect with its audience and give them easy access to the fine art that they want, be it $5 or $5,000. It is a design philosophy that has proven so successful that MasterCard partnered with the company last fall, a company dedicated to convenient and secure mCommerce.

The best way to look at it is from the perspective of a customer. What are they looking for when they buy what they buy or bank how they bank? The answer is always going to be a positive customer experience, and that will only ever happen when they can do what they want from wherever they happen to be, not wishing they were somewhere else with a full keyboard or a pocket full of cash.

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Have more to say on the subject of convenience in mCommerce? Contact Mobile ID World through Twitter and use the hashtag #MIDWMonthly to keep the conversation going.