Mobile devices have become an essential part of the travel journey for passengers, as over 80% are travelling with these gadgets. Whether on a tropical beach or on the top of the mountains, tourists use their smartphones to take pictures, to access the Internet and even pay, as an increasing number of merchants worldwide are now supporting and plan to support a variety of mobile payment options.
The most common ones are the mobile apps for online shopping, mobile payments at POS, and special mobile payment options such as mobile wallets. In 2018, 29% of online merchants accepted mobile wallets, up from 24% in 2015. The most popular mobile wallets accepted by online merchants worldwide were PayPal, Apple Pay and Visa Checkout.
But not only digital wallets are increasingly popular; early morning surfers at Sydney’s Bondi Beach, who get a little hungry, can just stroll up to the nearest vendor in their wetsuit, buy a sandwich and pay by tapping a wristband on the POS terminal. The most common types of wearable payment devices merchants that we are likely to encounter today include smartwatches, fitness trackers and jewellery (rings, bracelets) fitted with contactless payment technology. Some examples of wearables you can get your hands on today are fitness-tracking bands made by Fitbit, Jawbone, Runtastic, Mio, Basis, Misfit, Nike, Microsoft, Garmin, and others. Smartwatches include those running Android Wear, the forthcoming Apple Watch, and the Pebble watch.
Contactless payment with smartphones and smartwatches are set to become the rule rather than the exception in the years ahead. Point-of-sale mobile transactions are becoming especially popular – statistics show that in 2017, the number of mobile proximity payment users stood at 721.2 million worldwide and is projected to surpass 1 billion users in 2020. Technologies such as NFC (Near Field Communication), HCE (Host Card Emulation), and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) are paving the way for this global trend.
The new possibilities that mobile wallets and wearables bring to businesses are appealing for several reasons: they are easily integrated on multiple devices, have user-friendly interfaces and most of them can be used across channels. Moreover, they have high payment security features included. For instance, they offer secure customer registration – some in-app payment service include securely hosted customer registration and handling of payment data.
Also, merchants can adopt diverse payment methods, enabling customers traveling abroad to benefit from a wide range of national and international payment options such as: credit cards, direct debit, Internet transfer, mobile payment, alternative payment methods, and industry-specific solutions. But most importantly for merchants, they open the door for extensive loyalty, marketing programs and any type of new features and ideas around payments.
For instance in China, Alipay has become much more than just a platform for (e)commerce payments as it also offers a wide range of other financial services, such as travel booking, money market investments, insurance, and even loans. Similarly, Rabbit LINE Pay offers food delivery options, tax services, bill payments, and many other services in Japan, Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia.