Is paying with contactless too easy?

Earlier this week BBC News wrote a piece on contactless payments under the title “Will paying with contactless cards make us less healthy?”. The contention here is that paying with contactless is so simple and without any visibility of ‘real’ cash it’s too easy to spend more, especially on unhealthy snacks. I can see the argument although disagree with it from my personal perspective. Yes, contactless payment is simple with less friction than cash or indeed chip and PIN but it doesn’t make me spend more.

However my contactless payments (almost) always have one key difference compared to standard contactless payment using cards – a mobile handset. When I make contactless payments I always get an immediate notification to my Apple Watch (via my iPhone) either because I’ve used Apple Pay or because I’ve used Mondo. Both payment methods give me instant visibility of what I’ve paid but without the friction of using cash.

Contactless payment by card is a transitory step on the way to paying by mobile handset. Whilst mobile payments like Apple Pay and Android Pay are still niche they will continue to grow (Apple Pay launched across Singapore’s major banks this week). The security and information that mobile payments provide to users will ensure their eventual success. As I outlined recently, it’s all about giving consumers control over their money.

This post first appeared on Disruptive Views.

Context and immediacy in payments

I’m always interested in trying out new stuff, especially when it’s related to payments. Earlier this year I jumped on the Mondo Alpha launch as I wanted to see just how different their payment experience would be. If the UK digital challenger banks want to make an impact they will have to do things very differently to the legacy banks. Being nice to customers is great but it isn’t going to change banking. I fully expected to use Mondo a bit, see how it worked and then go back to using my usual cards. However, much to my amazement, I’m still using Mondo (and using it more than ever) four months later. Why has Mondo caught my imagination? They’re not a full bank yet, they only have one product, they don’t (yet) support Apple Pay. There are many aspects of the Mondo experience I love. On my recent trip to Copenhagen I used Mondo for all my DKK expenditure because Mondo doesn’t add the usual 2.75% ‘fee’ on non GBP transactions.Transaction Detail Dark

However Mondo’s real stickiness for me is down to two factors – context and immediacy. When I make a card payment – contactless, chip and PIN or online – I get instant notification of what I’ve spent and where on my Apple Watch via iOS notifications. This doesn’t sound revolutionary but how many payment providers do that for every transaction and include merchant, geolocation and category data when you view the transaction in an app? Consumers have been conditioned by the legacy banks not to expect immediate visibility or additional data for transactions. Apparently it’s acceptable to wait a couple of days for a payment to appear on your account! Mondo has turned that model on its head and despite the constraints of card scheme payment rails, manages to deliver a rich transaction experience to customers. Payments isn’t just about convenience, it’s about information and control and even in beta Mondo is delivering that to customers.

This post first appeared on Disruptive Views.

A week with Mondo

Last week the nice people at Mondo signed me up for the alpha of their new payments product. Mondo is one of the new generation of companies applying for UK banking licences who aim to fundamentally change the way we bank.

Mondo iconWhat makes Mondo different from other ‘digital challengers’ is that rather that wait for their banking licence application to be approved and then launch a product on an unsuspecting public, they have launched their ‘banking’ app in parallel with their licence application. Mondo wants to use customer feedback to help build and evolve their product before they formally launch as a bank. Mondo has done this by launching a prepaid account with a contactless MasterCard via the prepaid card issuer Wirecard Card Solutions under Wirecard’s emoney licence. When Mondo’s banking licence is approved and they become a ‘real’ bank they will provide their own bank accounts and issue their own cards.

Mondo notificationMondo’s aim is to put consumers in control of their spending using the power of their iPhone (Android et al is coming later). All transactions appear instantly in the app whether it’s a debit card top up to add funds to the Mondo account, an ATM cash withdrawal, a contactless transaction, a chip and PIN transaction or an online transaction. Transaction data includes merchant details, geolocation details, plus historical spend data for that merchant. There’s also the option to add extra data including a note and a copy of the receipt to each transaction.

Mondo cardAlthough the app is currently in alpha it works amazingly well. As soon as I make a purchase I receive a push notification on my iPhone or Apple Watch with confirmation of the transaction details. Over the past few days as I’ve used the app, additional features have been unlocked – a nice way to introduce the user to more functionality. Despite being an early release the app is considerably more engaging than legacy bank apps. A neat feature is the ability to ‘freeze’ my card temporarily so it can’t be used; great for people who mislay their cards and then find them again. When I freeze my card the app image of the card is covered in ice and the button underneath offers to defrost it!

Mondo defrostSomething else that appeals to me is the ability to add funds to my account using Apple Pay, making topping up friction free. If you haven’t yet paid in app using Apple Pay, you really haven’t seen the future!

Mondo is definitely one to watch and if they keep up their momentum the legacy players need to be looking over their collective shoulders; it’s not looking good for them!

Originally published on Disruptive Views.