Apps are Dead. How Mobile Wallet will be one of the few survivors.

March 5, 2019 Naomi Hsieh

Apps are Dead. How Mobile Wallet will be one of the few survivors.

Apps have died, and they’ve been dead for a long time. Although mobile apps were once the superstars of the mobile industry, the app bubble has burst. In 2017, Apple ended the year with 5% fewer apps than it had at the start, which may have resulted from, in part, declining interest on the part of consumers. 

As mobile has steadily become the device of choice for many consumers, preferences have also shifted. To reduce friction, ease usage, and save space on the increasingly precious real estate on mobile devices, the movement is clear - consolidate - and get more out of less.  

When the flashlight feature was added on iOS 7’s control center in 2013, it devastated the existing market for flashlight apps. Today, something similar may happen to the measuring app ecosystem (over 2 million in downloads) due to the Apple’s new app, Measure.  

"There’s an app for that!” Indeed, there is - but do we really need it?  

Users can now scan QR codes in the same app they use to take selfies for Instagram, call a car in the same app they use to locate an electric scooter, map out a route to a restaurant in the same app they use to read its reviews, hours of operation, and menu. Users are increasingly looking to accomplish more while navigating less, and mobile wallet is instrumental to this movement. Soon users will be able to pay, earn loyalty points, and redeem rewards/offers for all the brands they love – in one app.   

How Payments are Pay-ving the way for Mobile Wallet success. 

Dad jokes aside, mobile wallet is nothing new. It was first released in 2011and added payment functionality around 2014. Like all market disruptors, it was quickly met with the hurdles of an outdated landscape – complications with the existing payment processing protocols that were not designed to handle mobile payment data, lack of hardware compatibility, as well as security concerns. 

These hurdles prompted many brands to vertically build their own solutions, and thus success stories like Starbucks, Walmart, and Dunkin’ Donuts emerged and thrived – but this formula won’t work for everyone. These apps aren't versatile - they serve one brand and one brand only, which works great for habitual purchases like coffee or household goods, but not as well for others – and not every business is looking to be an “everything store.” At the end of the day, the customers come first – and not even the most beautifully built apps can survive if a majority of consumers doesn’t use them. Wallet will likely be to answer to mitigating app fatigue and delivering real value to the consumer. 

These hurdles lowered as the wallet disruption made waves, causing the market to adjust– card network/bank participation rose, payment data protocol solidified, and mobile NFC and biometric capabilities became standard. Mobile wallet payments have finally taken off, and with payment methods expanding – such as the Apple Pay and Goldman Sachs’ smart credit card launching later this year - as well as the rise of P2P transactions (ex: Venmo, Zelle) that further acclimate users to digital payments, the adoption of mobile wallet will only continue to grow in the upcoming years.  

Now that the pieces have fallen in place for payment’s success, it’s time for the additional capabilities of mobile wallet to realize their potential. 

The Future of Mobile Wallet 

Mobile wallet’s future is oddly familiar, yet revolutionary. It will provide the same utility that physical wallets once provided us with – a one-stop location for ways to pay, earn rewards, and redeem offers. But at the same time, it will bring the enormous dynamism and flexibility that technology has introduced to countless other industries. Dynamic and personalized offers, location-based messaging, timely reminders, and streamlined loyalty enrollment are just a few examples that are already in-market and are changing the way that people interact with brands and loyalty programs. But most importantly – mobile wallet establishes a trusted, dynamic, responsive, and multi-purpose channel for customers to reach the brands they love. 

To hear more on this topic, be sure to listen to our webinar with Apple Pay 

About the Author

Naomi Hsieh

Naomi is a Product Marketer at Vibes, as well as a technology fanatic, market trends nerd, and efficiency-obsessed cat lover. Always looking to connect the dots between new technologies and existing markets, she loves exploring how mobile innovation adds value to the world.

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