2012.36 | CIBC Mobile Payment

CIBC recently released a mobile payment app. I was very interested to see the details released, and I encourage all of the other banks and credit card companies to follow their lead. I would love to try the app if I met the criteria but at present I’m not a CIBC card holder.

This solution is certainly a welcome step along the evolution of the mobile wallet, but it’s not going to convert everyone to using their mobile phone to pay everywhere.

I see two main challenges to the success of this particular solution as it exists today: Barriers to entry, and perceived benefit.

Barriers to entry will drive down usage. To use this payment infrastructure, potential users have to be: CIBC Visa cardholders, Rogers Mobile Subscribers, and Blackberry Mobile Device owners. This immediately limits the population of potential users. Potential users will also have to register for the Rogers SureTap service, obtain a special Rogers SIM card with NFC capabilities (through the mail or at a store) to be enabled with their mobile account , download the CIBC mobile payment app from Blackberry App World, and configure the app for use.

I personally have no problems with doing any of these things, and I might do it if I was a part of the targeted user group, but then I’m not representative of the general population when it comes to technology. The vast majority of the population either have no interest in doing some or all of these things, and/or will have no idea what I just wrote. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a HUGE barrier to entry. We just bored thousands of users out of doing this. There are too many services, too many steps, and too much explanation of all of the plumbing. If the mobile device doesn’t come with this thing ready to go, most people simply aren’t going to use it.

The perceived benefit of this solution is also uncertain. If I go to a store today, let’s consider the experience. First, users have to discern whether the store takes this form of mobile payment. If you ask a clerk at the store, they probably won’t know or will give clients an incorrect answer.

Assuming the consumer is savvy enough to look for the contactless logo in the provided video, what is the benefit of using one’s mobile to pay? If your average person is shopping, they usually have their wallet with them. Mainly because people still carry them, and they have things other than credit cards – drivers licenses, ID, health cards, and more. (Don’t believe that’s a problem? Check out the wired special on this very subject.)

In order to pay in the traditional way at the point of sale, the consumer pulls out their wallet and their card, inserts the card in the pinpad and enters their pin. If they have a contactless card, they just tap the pinpad with the card.

In order to pay with the new mobile solution at the point of sale, the consumer pulls out their mobile, unlocks it, goes to the CIBC mobile payment app, puts in their pin if they have one in the app, and then taps their mobile on the pinpad.

Q: How is this easier than using a card? A: It isn’t, and it doesn’t add anything to the experience.

The main benefit I see is not having to bring a wallet if no ID is needed (unusual), or using the mobile in a pinch.

This is the first iteration of the solution. I fully expect this solution to expand to other handsets – they already mention Windows Phone, and perhaps to other CIBC cards. I’m sure the solution will also evolve and be offered with brand new handsets when consumers purchase them.

Moving beyond the challenges of this app, I am one hundred percent behind it and what it’s trying to do. There is no mobile wallet today that is universal, that works with every card, that is built into every phone when you get it, that works with every platform, that works at every pinpad. That nirvana isn’t coming anytime soon.

What we do have today are organizations like CIBC, Visa, Rogers, RIM and others that are well-intentioned and forward thinking in trying to get a solution like this off the ground. This is a change that will take place over years. Steps like this and others will get us there. If you have access to this solution and can do it – try it out. If you are getting a new Blackberry and you have a CIBC Visa, why not get all this set up when you buy it? Others seeing this solution in use will drive familiarity. Usage begets usage if the benefit is there.

The only way for us to get to the solutions we want is to embrace the solutions that get us part way. This is not easy – just ask Google. Let’s all be part of the bleeding edge and pull mobile payment solutions along.

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