As the payment journey continues to evolve, innovative methods are taking on a heightened role of importance, especially as global economies emerge from the pandemic. 

Elias Guerra, Founder and CEO of Popwallet, spoke to Payment Expert about how the pandemic has shifted consumer habits and elevated the importance of mobile wallets. 

Payment Expert: Firstly, can you tell us more about the Popwallet offering? 

Elias Guerra: Popwallet is a Mobile Wallet Marketing Automation and Customer Experience Management Platform. Really, that’s just a fancy way of saying we provide software tools for brands to reach and engage their customers through mobile wallets like Apple Wallet and Google Pay. 

Popwallet enables brands to leverage mobile wallets to deliver contactless customer experiences such as dynamic coupons and offers, loyalty, gift, and member ID cards, tickets, and other branded content. The mobile wallet enhances traditional marketing and communications tactics by replacing paper and plastic with a dynamic mobile engagement channel. 

PE: How has the climate for mobile wallets changed over the past year? 

EG: The pandemic really was a catalyst for shifting consumer behaviour. Think pre-pandemic: the value proposition for these mobile wallets was more about convenience. It was a little bit easier to use your credit card if it was on your mobile device as people’s mobile devices are with them at all times, so you’re less likely to forget something at home. 

When the pandemic hit, the value proposition shifted to be driven more by consumer safety than convenience. The idea of touching a payment terminal or handling a plastic credit card or paper cash–any physical object–all of a sudden was undesirable; people no longer wanted to touch things as a means to try and stay safe from COVID-19. This definitely accelerated the use of mobile wallets and contactless transactions over the past year.

PE: What role do loyalty points and cards sit within the payment journey and how integral are they to providing an engaging user experience? 

EG: Brands want to acquire new customers and retain loyal customers. A common way to do this is by rewarding customer behavior around purchases. The ability to reward through exclusive offers and loyalty is essential for acquiring and retaining these ideal customers, so being able to accomplish this through one common place, like a mobile wallet, is the ultimate combination of content and commerce. 

It is a very powerful tool for brands, and provides utility and value for consumers. With the mobile wallet as the centerpiece of the loyalty program, brands are able to seamlessly tie loyalty and rewards to purchase behavior in a way that’s very convenient for their customer.

PE: As eco-friendly payments journeys become more important, how key can the role of mobile wallets be? 

EG: Mobile wallets provide a unique opportunity for sustainable experiences in a variety of contexts. Mobile payment apps, like Apple Pay or Google Pay, significantly reduce the need for consumers to carry plastic credit cards or paper cash.

This reduction of paper and plastic extends beyond payment. These mobile wallets also enable sustainable customer experiences – including coupons and offers, loyalty, gift, and member ID cards, tickets, and more. Brands and retailers can leverage mobile wallet content to digitise their experiences and avoid distributing paper and plastic (e.g. paper coupons and tickets, or plastic loyalty and gift cards). 

Mobile wallets can play a critical role in providing a positive environmental impact when you think of all the paper and plastic that has traditionally been utilised in the creation and delivery of paper coupons, paper coupons, plastic gift cards, plastic credit cards, and paper cash for currency. All of these transactions can be completed via mobile wallet, without requiring a physical medium. This can significantly reduce the paper and plastic waste produced annually, and is highly appealing to today’s tech-savvy consumer. 

PE: As retail opens up again globally, do you believe that mobile wallets will play a more prevalent role in transactions? 

EG: Absolutely, I think a few things aren’t going to change. One, people aren’t suddenly going to start leaving their smartphones at home when they go shopping–they are going to continue having their smartphones with them while in a store. 

This means they’ll have their mobile wallet with them and are likely to continue using it. And number two, people are not going to go back to wanting to touch things more than they might have to. When you think about transacting and being able to do that in a safe and contactless way, mobile wallets are at the forefront. I think great examples of this are already happening, too–look no further than other global markets like China, where most retail commerce is transacted through the smartphone.