ePayments Week: Who do you trust for mobile payments?

Consumers trust old school, PayPal researches online game payments, and a look at smartphone market share.

Here’s what caught my attention in the payment space this week.

Consumers trust credit cards brands in mobile payments

Affirming the power of brand loyalty, new survey results show the names that consumers would trust most with their mobile payments are the same ones they already use offline. Leading credit card providers Visa, MasterCard and American Express topped the list of most trusted mobile payment providers in Ogilvy & Mather’s survey of 500 US consumers, according to Ad Age. And they managed to do it even though none of the three yet offers a mobile payment solution, except in limited trials.

The results are good news for payment consortium Isis, which signed agreements with all three leading credit card groups last month, ensuring their place in Isis’ future mobile payment scheme. Isis, which is spearheaded by telecoms AT&T Mobility, Verizon Communications, and T-Mobile, launched last fall with support from Discover Card — which doesn’t seem to show up in the Ogilvy results. Isis aims to provide an underlying technology standard based on NFC (near field communications) technology that the telecoms, handset makers, banks and credit cards can agree on for tap-and-pay mobile commerce. It’s likely that the application and user-interface layers high above this NFC technology would be branded with familiar payment names, like the ones cited in Ogilvy’s survey.

The other big winner in the survey appears to be eBay’s PayPal, which placed a close fourth with 34.3% of users saying they would trust the online payment veteran. (Survey respondents could choose as many brands as they felt they could trust.) PayPal ranked much higher than other technology brands working in the mobile payments space, including Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Indeed, PayPal ranked more than twice as high as its parent brand, eBay. Expect to see that item on the agenda at the next marketing strategy meeting. Trailing far behind was Facebook, with only 12.1% of survey respondents saying they would trust them with mobile payments. Facebook’s poor ranking seems surprising at first ,when you consider all that users do trust Facebook with: preferences, locations, friends, history — the whole social graph. But it may be that Facebook’s recurring embarrassments with overly intrusive privacy policies, some which were later retracted, have made users wary about sharing financial data with the service.

PayPal wants to know who plays and who pays

In addition to mobile, one of the realms that PayPal is focused upon growing its business is in online gaming. Last week on PayPal’s blog, Carey Kolaja, the company’s senior director of emerging opportunities, reported findings from research PayPal contracted from Ipsos on payments within online games.

Among the results:

  • social gamers are typically older, more often female than MMO games
  • one third of social gamers spend more than $10 per month on their games
  • 40% are most likely to have used PayPal to pay for their gaming habit

The fact that social gamers are older and mostly female jibes with other research we’ve seen on social games. That could be particularly interesting in light of the Ogilvy results noted above. Given the amount of social gaming centered around Facebook, one might think the Facebook Credits would be the natural currency for those gamers. Indeed, our report last April on iFeelgoods’ effort to use Facebook Credits as rewards was based on that company’s understanding of those users as the people who control household budgets. But if more users feel comfortable tapping PayPal for goods — even virtual goods — then it’s an opportunity for PayPal to make its channel as easy as Facebook Credits for those purchases. Of course, they’ll still need to give Facebook its 30%.

Infographic: Rise and fall in smart phone platforms

I really like the infographics by Asymco, a small Helsinki-based research consultancy. This week’s is an elegant bar chart that shows monthly net gains (and losses) on smart phone platforms in the US. (Their data is based on research by comScore MobiLens… but Asymco adds value by presenting it in graphic form that I think Edward Tufte would approve of.)


Among the highlights from the past three months:

  • 2.8 million new smart phone users came online during Spring 2011
  • The iPhone added 452,000 users, but that’s much lower than the million-per-month run Apple had been experiencing
  • Android gained 2.2 million users, consistent with its average over 7 months
  • RIM lost about 600,000 users

Presenting the data this way allows users to easily spot long-term or recurring trends. For example, looking back at the spring 2010, data reveals a slowdown in iOS adoption in the months leading up to the introduction of the iPhone 4, and then a surge again in the summer after. I wonder if the same thing is happening this summer, as smart phone users hold off new purchases or switching platforms, in anticipation of iPhone 5’s predicted September release.

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