If We Ask The Wrong Question, We Will Get The Wrong Answer

When it comes to mPayments, the real question we need to ask is: Why are we still promoting a disjoint experience? The real solution cannot be about sliding high resolution images of cards and coupons sideways or flipping them around so they do a little jig, at least not while there are irate aficionados waiting to pick up their personalized cup of joe.

The real value proposition delivered by the supercomputer in our pocket cannot be about tapping a card instead of swiping it. The real challenges cannot be conveniently swept under the carpet of security and privacy. The real promise of innovation has to be about delivering a truly seamless experience.

If we are truly seeking the answer to the question of adoption, we have to start by asking the right question.

Let us frame this question as our next guiding principle; how can we simplify the experience by leveraging contextual and behavioral intelligence, where applications lead transactions to help achieve a seamless experience, across all channels and devices?

We have to simplify the experience. And then we have to let the application lead the transaction. The plastic metaphor is built on a disjointed experience, where the consumer has to decide what she or he wants to buy and then decides how she or he wants to pay. Recreating a digital replica of the leather wallet on the cell phone promotes the same disjointed experience.

Omnicommerce will thrive only when the application leads the transaction, or in other words, we have a seamless experience.

The consumer needs to get on the subway, buy coffee, get the newspaper, pay into the office pool, order lunch, pay the guy who paid for lunch, get groceries, pick up the great deal at the shoe shop on the way home, take the kids to the dentist, find parking, pay for parking, pay bills and pay taxes. And then start all over again.

With our technological prowess, why do we still have to keep going to the applications rather than the applications coming to us? If with all this great gadgetry and wizardry at our disposal, we are still populating shopping carts, selecting cards, coupons and shipping addresses, and storing receipts, we are definitely doing something wrong.

Our lives should be interrupted only when there is a critical decision to be made. Stated differently, our simple ask from technology is not to ask us dumb questions.

It is clear that seamless transactions hold enormous promise in making our day-to-day lives more convenient, in the process introducing higher levels of efficiencies, and fostering healthier competition. There is no doubt that this will significantly drive down costs, and effectively improve the quality of life for consumers across all strata of society. If seamless transactions are the answer, we need to work backwards and reframe the questions we are asking about adoption.

As illusive as adoption appears to be, there is a simple and sound principle at play – ask the right questions and you may get the right answers.

There is a good reason why cell phones achieved significant adoption in a relatively short period of time. Its utility was self-evident to the consumer and the entire ecosystem was incentivized to push for maximizing coverage. What started out as providing an efficient tool for basic communication, quickly became a platform for all kinds of value added services, with a direct link now established between its adoption and GDP.

mTransactions, and, in particular, seamless mTransactions, hold similar promise, and could become an even more powerful socioeconomic force.

It is imperative we start asking the right questions.

Check out Mehul Desai’s August of Money.