MWC2012: Mobile Payments

Categories: Spain, Tech Reviews, Technology

Well we had an interesting experience using Paypal and RedLaser at the congress today.

We were given the option of saving 1 Euro and skipping the line up for lunch if we purchased via our mobile using Paypal and RedLaser – to give some context, the meal is normally about 18 Euros, so this would be a savings of less than 10% and the line was about 20 minutes long. If it is quick and easy it makes sense. The business model also makes sense, as there is enough in the transaction to be shared by all parties.

But we had no joy. Due to the poor network coverage (seriously? This it the Mobile World Congress, and the best service to use is SMS?? Wi-Fi sucked, 3G sucked… Brutal…) – the experience was fraught with intermittent errors, delayed responses, etc. First we had to remember our paypal account details – I don’t know mine offhand – and then we had to wait for the menu to download, select and purchase, and wait for a response. The first time, the response failed. So now what we supposed to do? Did I get charged already? Should I purchase again?? By the time we completed, more than 20 minutes had passed – not a great experience, and would halt me from using it again in the future.

It was an example of a poorly thought out demonstration. The service assumed that everyone was on a smartphone with a nice high bandwidth connection. The pages did not seem formatted to reduce their size, and in general they could have anticipated that the coverage might have been spotty and set up some wi-fi repeaters or femto-cells temporarily. There were a number of vendors at the event showcasing the solutions for such a case!

Wide adoption of mobile payments is still in its infancy and there is no clear winner. There are a lot of interesting segmented use cases, but there is definitely room for a company to improve on what is there currently.

What are some of the factors that would encourage or prevent you from using a mobile payment service?


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