Perfect storm? What Apple flavoured m-commerce could mean for travel

If we read between the lines, an announcement at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month could be a boon to mobile commerce

With a user base of over 500 million people and hundreds of millions of credit card details on file, could an Apple flavoured m-commerce solution be in the offing?

Those two facts combined have led to speculation that the firm will release a mobile payment solution with the iPhone 6. The argument goes that it’s unlikely that Apple would open its Touch ID technology API to third party developers, an announcement made at the recent developers conference, if it didn’t have a m-commerce solution.  

But what does that mean for the travel industry, where alternative payment options, and in particular via mobile, are a growing focus. A report by WorldPay, in late 2013, into an alternative payment and distribution landscape for airlines found that:

  • 57% of 56 airlines surveyed believe mobile has the greatest potential to drive revenue over the next two years
  • 32% of airlines are planning to offer mobile payments within the next two years
  • 89% will adopt alternative payment methods to meet customer demand
  • 64% expect to see costs savings from alternative payment methods 

Until now, the payment experience on a mobile device has been viewed as too fiddly and too insecure. After all, Apple had initially rolled out its fingerprint recognition technology in iOS 7 but within a walled garden. This allowed users to unlock their phone or authenticate purchases but only from Apple’s own stores – probably to keep potential security issues closer to home. But Apple’s recent opening to competition suggests that those security concerns have been allayed.

Until now, the payment experience on a mobile device has been viewed as too fiddly and too insecure

“If we take a step back and look at the whole travel booking journey, mobile plays a large part in the travel research phase, but it’s still predominantly tablets and PCs where people are completing and paying for their bookings,” says Thomas Helldorff, VP Travel at Worldpay. “Implementing Touch ID for the payment process would allow consumers to simply scan their finger to securely authenticate a payment, greatly improving the user experience.”

With brands working to become more relevant beyond the original booking, there are huge upsell and cross-sell opportunities too.  A simple and secure m-commerce solution would make add-on purchases during a trip like last minute hotel bookings, room upgrades, guided tours, entrance tickets or ground transportation more of a reality.

“This, coupled with other technologies such as Apple’s iBeacon technology, means we are really seeing a shift towards a holistic payment ecosystem and hopefully a change in consumer perception that will drive a higher adoption of mobile payments in the travel market,” he says.

Not just an Apple play

PayPal developers present at the Apple conference are reportedly already working on implementing the feature into its apps and other payment providers are likely to follow suit.  

…not everybody has an iPhone

But not everybody has an iPhone and interestingly, Paypal has also teamed up with Samsung to enable consumer payments with fingerprint authentication on the New Samsung Galaxy S5.

Alastair Hanlon, Vice President of Enterprise Solutions at the technology firm, Syniverse believes Apple’s announcement is certainly an exciting development for the industry, and reinforces the increasing importance of mobile to brands. However, he is also quick to point out that that not everybody has an iPhone.

“Developers, retailers and merchants with an m-commerce offering shouldn’t overlook the millions of travellers who don’t own an iPhone but who still want the convenience of using their mobile for transactions safely when travelling,” he says. Hanlon cites two-factor SMS authentication is an equally secure method for authorising transactions quickly and easily, which is available to smartphone and non-smartphone users alike.

So while Apple is likely to be a formidable player in the mobile-commerce space, payment solutions are emerging all the time. Helldorff can’t stress enough that with e-commerce evolving at a rapid pace, it’s vitally important that travel businesses understand which payment solutions work best, and in which markets, to deliver the best possible experience to local consumers and drive sales.

Some of those considerations include:

1. Having the right mix of payment methods suitable for that market. For example Alipay, which allows Chinese travellers to use their mobile phones to make real time payments while travelling
2. Understanding the intricacies and rules and regulations of local payments
3.  Being able to provide the right fraud mitigation mix for success
4.  Implementing central back-office processes such global reconciliation, reporting and supplier payment solutions

WorldPay and Syniverse were interviewed as part of EyeforTravel’s sponsored content programme 

Related Reads

comments powered by Disqus