November 20, 2013

Consumers have been slow to adopt mobile payments at the point-of-sale, but some providers are trying to change that by building new consumer payment habits through specific use cases.

Representatives from two mobile payments providers - MyCheck and PayPal - talked yesterday about their attempts to build such consumer habits during a meeting with reporters. MyCheck, which enables restaurant customers to split their bill and pay it from their smartphone, has partnered with PayPal to integrate their experience into the PayPal app and expand the availability of mobile payments among restaurants in New York City.

Representatives from the two companies said they expect the value proposition of being able to save consumers time when it comes time to pay their restaurant bill will entice many consumers to use mobile payments when they eat out.

[See Related: Low-Value Transactions: A Mobile Payments Dilemma]

“If you associate MyCheck with shaving time off of your restaurant experience, then the next time you’re in a rush, you’ll find some place that takes MyCheck,” Frances Zelazny, MyCheck’s EVP of Americas, said.

That value proposition will also be attractive to restaurant owners, said Craig Olson, who leads PayPal’s efforts to drive mobile payments adoption among small businesses in New York City, which is one of PayPal’s test markets for mobile payments at the point of sale, along with San Francisco and Austin. Being able to cut down time on paying the bill would be a great offering for restaurants in the Theater District, where customers are often rushing out of the restaurant to make it to their show, he noted.

“In one year a tremendous number of restaurants in the Theater District will be offering the ability to pay at the table [with the mobile device]” Olson predicted.

PayPal has been using “activation ambassadors” at some of the brick-and-mortar retailers that accept PayPal payments in stores to inform customers that they can pay at those locations with their PayPal app, Olson shared. These ambassadors encourage customers to download the app and use it by offering discounts at those locations if they pay with PayPal, he added.

But getting more brick-and-mortar stores to offer mobile payments is also a key part of forming the consumer habit of taking out their phone to pay, MyCheck’s Zelazny added. Mobile payments have to become available at more locations if that behavior is going to become a habit for customers. “It becomes a habit when you can do it any time, anywhere,” she explained.

That kind of wider adoption among merchants and customers will likely take more partnerships like the one between MyCheck and PayPal. “You can have all the infrastructure [in place], the most users, the best technology in the world. You can have the best customer experience. That’s still not enough. You have to be able to combine all those things and connect all those dots,” said Tal Nathanel, MyCheck’s CEO.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan Camhi is a graduate of the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism, where he focused on international reporting and interned at the Hindustan Times in Delhi, ...