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If you’re like me and have a conscience, you were disgusted with humanity by the end of last week for multiple reasons. I do not need to get into details.

But as the week came to a close and citizens in the U.S. remained divided about current events, a mobile app started to bring people together in an unusual way.

The Pokémon Company, with video-game maker Nintendo as one of its primary investors, last week released its free-to-play augmented reality mobile game in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. Pokémon Go has a grip on these nations as millions of people roam their neighborhoods to “catch” virtual Pokémon.

And while the game has experienced server issues since its debut, players love it. As a result, Nintendo is a hot company.

As I’ve been playing the game myself over the last week, I wondered what lessons mobile wallet providers can learn from Pokémon Go. Believe it or not, there is a thing or two you can take from the game’s viral success.

One of the biggest problems we’re seeing in the industry is stickiness when it comes to how often consumers use mobile wallets. This is a problem the prepaid card industry has battled for years.

For some consumers, they’ll use the mobile wallet of their choice for one purchase just out of curiosity and then they’re done with it. For others, they’ll continue to use the wallet whenever they can but complain about a lack of features.

For all the progress Apple Pay/Wallet, Android Pay, Samsung Pay and similar products have made since their respective debuts, features such as digital receipts and system-specific loyalty programs are still absent.

It’s too early to know how popular Pokémon Go will be in six months, but the game’s addictive nature has players spending more time (43 minutes) with it than Snapchat and Whatsapp. The Pokémon Company already announced it will add more features to the game as time goes on and that will help keep it fresh with users.

Of course, mobile wallet providers can’t expect to achieve Pokémon Go’s current screen time with consumers, but there needs to be a way to match that relevancy and becoming a true center for a consumer’s financial life is one way.

Banks at this point have the best chance to make that happen because of the relationship they already have with their customers. We know how often mobile banking users access their bank’s app. A good portion of consumers do so multiple times per day. The same can’t be said for the main ‘Pays’.

One more important thing to keep in mind with Pokémon Go’s success is the game’s inclusion of in-app purchases.

Gamers are willingly spending money in the game to enhance the experience. Can a mobile wallet provider get away with charging a premium version of its product that contains certain features? It’s a risky proposition in the sense a provider might lose customers to a competitor that doesn’t charge for its product.

But if the video-game industry has taught us anything, consumers are willing to pay for extra services and add-ons if the content meets their standards.

Pokémon Go’s overnight success has given all of you something to think about. Now excuse me because I need to go capture Pikachu.

Flickr photo.


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