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Payments industry at the “apex” of opportunity for consumer influence


Talbott Roche believes this week’s expo is aptly named, given that the industry is at an “apex” with the influence payments is having on the consumer, with commerce and all the brands that consumers interact with.

“More than ever before, technology is changing the way the consumer is behaving and their expectations around shopping. Mobile devices are making them connected in a 24/7 commerce cycle in which they expect they can shop, purchase and pay when they want and how they want.”

Roche is president and CEO of Blackhawk Network, a leader in prepaid and payments with operations in 24 countries. An award winning payments innovator with years of experience in consumer products and payment technology, Roche gave the keynote address on Monday at the 2016 All Payments Expo.

Roche pointed to the rise of mobile devices as one of the biggest and most ubiquitous trends. She said that two-thirds of Americans now have smart phones – a figure that’s doubled since 2011, when one-third of the U.S. had smart phones.

Blackhawk’s research found that in terms of where smartphone users connect:

  • 68% are in living room
  • 66% are in the car
  • 66% are in stores
  • 63% are in the bedroom
  • 52% are at work
  • 50% are in the bathroom
  • 48% are on public transit

When it comes to connectivity, not all generations are created equally. Millennials are connected 4.5 hours a day to mobile devices to the Internet.

“This level of connectivity makes them more willing to transact and trust the mobile environment. So they’re driving that increase in mobile shopping that’s going to be so important to commerce in years to come.”

Also at this time, trust is being eroded, and today’s consumers trust one-way messaging, from the likes of CEOs and corporate boards, less than ever before because they have the ability to draw on their peers and other technical advisers all the time using mobile devices. “They are more interested in their own thoughts than in an agenda being pushed at them,” she said.

That means companies can’t count on Facebook pages for engagement. “We’re actually seeing more companies step away from corporate Facebook pages or corporate tweets because the consumer is disengaging from that. They don’t see that as authentic communication, and they’re actually using that as a platform to complain.”

Roche proffered that payments actually provides a new platform for deeper engagement with disconnected consumers. “New payment technologies are a way for us to build trust through transparency and interactivity, as well as provide flexibility and speed, which are paramount interests for the customer, and deliver more value and, finally, reward the consumer for their business.”

Roche pointed to Best Buy as one example of a merchant that is using payment technology to deepen engagement. Best Buy recognized that two-thirds of their customers come into the store armed with a mobile device, and one quarter of customers are checking out items outside of Best Buy while they’re there.

In response, Best Buy enabled its own price-checking app that allows customers to look at every item and check it against competitive prices. “They’re going head to head with their digital rivals. But what they’re doing is they’re providing and enabling the transparency that connected consumer is looking for, and they’re building trust.”

Roche challenged the audience to ask themselves how to use payments to go beyond the transaction and build trust with consumers.

“We are at the apex of opportunity to influence our customer and to drive deeper levels of engagement.”

Autumn Giusti
Autumn Cafiero Giusti is a New Orleans-based writer and editor with more than 15 years of professional experience. Giusti has covered global payments and financial services since 2006, having contributed to nearly a half-dozen trade and consumer publications. She previously served as news editor for New Orleans’ weekly business newspaper and as a daily newspaper reporter in Florida.

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