Mobile Payments Replacement for Small Change?

by Net Future Institute on March 5, 2013

I’m wondering if maybe mobile payments ultimately will be driven by big businesses but small things.

Earlier this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a Coca-Cola executive suggested the company’s goal should be getting a Cole into “every hand with a mobile phone,” as reported by MarketingWeek.

The idea is that with about 6 billion phones in the world, that group is a better target than the roughly 2 billion people Coke would reach with traditional marketing activities.

“I am looking at how we can use mobile technology and content to get a transaction,” said Tom Daly, Coca-Cola group director of mobile and search, according to the report. “We are not just in the brand building business; we are in the direct response business.”

The idea is to use mobile payment technology to target consumers who don’t buy a Coke because they don’t have enough change in their pocket at the time.

Companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have access to vending machines around the world, a logical mobile-transaction location. In those cases, mobile payments could be replacing payments made with cash rather than those made by credit card.

Though the idea of mobile payments at vending machines is hardly new, wide-scale deployment is still lacking.

While the banks, credit card companies and other financial transactions firms focus on augmenting credit card payments with mobile, maybe it will be the small-change transactions where the market is nurtured.

Mobile startups like Square get this, and are often used for smaller transactions, such as buying a smoothie from the local juicery.

Mobile payments at a mass scale are still a ways off, but the Coke-in-every-hand approach via mobile payments may have some legs.

What do you think: mobile payments taking more the place of credit cards or small change (or both or neither)?

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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