You'd be forgiven if you haven't heard of ViVOtech. While a key component of Google Wallet, the company itself mostly works behind the scenes, providing near-field communications-based technology to merchants, mobile service providers, and financial institutions.
The company's president and founder is Mohammad Khan, a thirty-year veteran of the industry and man extensively well-versed in what not only the current state of NFC-based mobile payment but its near and not-so-near future as well.
Khan took some time this morning to talk with me about some of the larger issues facing the mobile payment industry, from consumer reluctance, to the Google advantage.
Consumer adoption for NFC payment has been fairly tepid so far. What are some of the hurdles the industry is facing?
In my view one of the important things the industry needs to work on is creating a proper value proposition for the consumer. The consumer needs to be tempted. The consumer needs to see a value in using technology. It has to be easy to adopt and easier to use.
Starbucks, for example, has done a good job with this with its own loyalty system. The consumer likes free things, which Starbucks gives them in the form of free coffee. That type of consumer incentivising must be at the core of the industry's efforts.
A lot of that consumer reluctance is cultural. What can the industry do to aid the adoption process?
I think that sometimes you have to take up the leadership. The consumer will not know about new technologies until they are offered in a manner the consumer can easily understand and use.
Simplicity seems to play a big part in this.
We always gravitate towards simplicity. If it's something I'm going to do anyway, and you make it easy for me, thats what im going to look at. The reason NFC is going to prevail is because touch technology is so simple and easy for consumers to understand.
What about on the merchant end?
Merchants want a few things. They want to drive traffic into stores, and upsell those customers once they walk in. They want loyalty programs, so that when consumers leave they have a good chance of coming back. And, of course, they want to keep the costs down.
Much like with credit cards and online banking, security is also a major concern with mobile payments. How does trust factor into this?
Consumers are sensitive with their money, and they need to trust the systems they are putting our money into. We are educating both consumers and merchants [on how to safely use the technology]. It has to be properly implemented from a mobile security point of view as well as a consumer point of view.
So far some of the biggest pushes have come from Google. What are Google's big advantages here?
Google's core business is advertising and offers. Those are the assets they have, and areas in which they do well. But they should make them available to merchant channels - not only to Google Wallet. For Google to succeed, they need to offer their coupons through multiple channels.
Services like Google Wallet can more than just payment plays - they can be major shopping plays as well. That's the value we have to deliver to consumers