Mobile app wallets bring brands closer to consumers

With mobile payments becoming the norm, many brands are exploring mobile app wallets that allow customers to securely store card details and make quick, convenient transactions directly from a smartphone app. Michele Marzan, CSO at MainAd explains the opportunity.


The convenience of transacting via digital devices is a necessity for the modern consumer. Over 60% choose retailers based on how quickly they can get a product without visiting a store, while almost as many select their bank on the basis they can make all transactions digitally. Almost two-thirds of smartphone owners used their mobile device to make a payment in the last twelve months and adoption of mobile wallets is increasing, particularly among younger generations.

For consumers, the benefits of brand-specific mobile app wallets are largely around convenience. They provide a secure and seamless experience, saving consumers time and effort. The M&S app, for instance, not only allows customers to purchase items from the retailer’s online store via their mobile device; it can also help speed up their in-store experience.

In some London stores customers can scan and pay for food items up to the value of £30 using their smartphone and avoid the checkout altogether, which is invaluable for anyone that’s ever tried to grab an M&S sandwich at lunchtime.

Payments and rewards

In a similar way the incredibly popular Starbucks app allows users to speed up their experience, ordering and paying for food or drinks in advance before picking them up, all without having to get out their physical wallets. Both of these apps link to the brands’ loyalty schemes – Sparks for M&S and Stars for Starbucks – meaning consumers can earn rewards and make use of personalised promotions as they would with a traditional loyalty card. Because the app is linked to the loyalty programme it avoids customers forgetting they have signed up for rewards or losing their cards.

Brand apps produce valuable first-party data including the user’s browsing and buying history as well as location data.

For brands, the benefits of apps with mobile wallets are largely to do with getting closer to the consumer and offering an elevated experience. If a consumer downloads a brand’s app, they are already showing an active interest, and will be more receptive to messaging than mobile web visitors, so brands can make use of that existing relationship. US research reveals smartphone users prefer shopping via an app than using the mobile web, and this trend is particularly noticeable among millennials.

The data upside

Brand apps produce valuable first-party data including the user’s browsing and buying history as well as location data, which can provide real-time contextual information about their immediate needs. This in-depth insight enables brands to deliver relevant, personalised experiences such as lock-screen push notifications with tailored offers, stock updates, basket reminders or new product arrivals. Around 70% of consumers want digital experiences to be more personalised than in-person interactions, and 57% are more likely to repeat purchase from a retailer if they receive loyalty based discounts.

By integrating mobile wallet functionality into their apps, brands shorten the conversion path, encouraging users to make a purchase or pay for a service directly from the product page. Mobile app wallets reduce friction in the purchase process and limit the opportunities for cart abandonment, resulting in higher conversion rates.

One of the many factors behind Amazon’s runaway success is the simplicity of its checkout process, where users click ‘buy now’ in the app and can make a payment instantly using default stored card details.

Smartphone apps also allow brands to be more experimental, leveraging the latest technologies from virtual reality to artificial intelligence to enhance the customer experience. ASOS, which gets 77% of online traffic from mobile devices, is known for pushing the boundaries with its smartphone app. It recently introduced a virtual catwalk experience, powered by augmented reality, which enables a user to watch a model demonstrating an item in whatever location they happen to be. The app also has a style match feature, which allows users to upload an image of a product they like and uses algorithms to show similar products available from ASOS. These breakthrough technologies guide the shopper along their purchase journey and integration with a mobile wallet ensures that journey continues seamlessly to the final conversion.

While consumers enjoy the convenience of mobile app wallets, brands can use them to get closer to their customers. By speeding up the checkout process and reducing friction, mobile app wallets deliver more conversions while also allowing brands to deliver personalised, innovative experiences to their loyal customers’ fingertips.


Michele Marzan, CSO at MainAd

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