Mobile Payments in Search of Customers at SXSW

by Net Future Institute on March 12, 2013

We didn’t have to go far in our search for mobile commerce at SXSW over the last few days.

Concession stands throughout the massive Austin Convention Center were prominently outfitted with LevelUp barcode readers for payments. And if anyone was about to miss that, there were LevelUp tutors wearing bright orange shirts with all the appropriate labeling.

We wanted to see just how tough it was to get people to sign up and try the mobile payment platform. We asked one person in line if he was going to use it and he said “I have no idea what it is.”

The next person in line was approached by a friendly tutor named Mary Ann, who quickly outlined the pitch — $5 off on the first order, $3 off on every order over $30 later – and the person was in.

“I’m a film maker, I’ll do that right now,” she said, as she followed the simple instructions, downloaded the app, signed in via Facebook and took a picture of her credit card to link it into LevelUp. Done and on her way to place an order.

We asked Mary about why people either did or did not sign up.

Why they do: “The deal and a lot of people like that they can get a receipt by email.”

Why they don’t: “Some people are concerned about security and for some there’s not enough time to do it.”

Mary Ann said the concession lines were sometimes too short and moved too quickly for people to take the time to register, figuring about one to two people out of every ten were signing up.

If the payment signup rate is in the range of 10 to 20 percent with the tech-savvy SXSW crowd, it could be a while before the masses are in for contactless payments.

  Chuck Martin is editor of mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk. He is author of “The Third Screen,” “The Smartphone Handbook,” and the soon-to-be-published “Mobile Influence.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute and a frequent mobile keynote speaker around the globe.

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