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Intro & News

Welcome to Episode 3 of the Mobile Payments Today Podcast. I am your host, and editor of Mobile Payments Today, Will Hernandez. I want to thank everyone who tuned in last week for the interview with Lou Anne Alexander, from Early Warning, the company behind Zelle.

Last week’s interview plays into a couple of news items this week. Because, Mobile P2P is something we’re talking about a lot right now. Zelle has this huge base of users. The volumes are going to be high in terms of transactions, and transaction value is going to be high, because people are linking their checking accounts. It’s interesting to see this is playing out, because banks are using them, and the simplicity of it. People are gravitating towards it.

So a couple of news items that have to do with Mobile P2P. There was some controversy recently with Venmo and its public API, how those transactions are public. How the information can be seen with the API, that’s something that was a bit overblown. You can see that information regardless, whether you’re in the backend or a customer. That’s the nature of Venmo, it’s public.

There is now integration with Uber and Venmo. There is some advantages to having the information with Venmo public, that actually led to the partnership with Uber and Venmo.

The other bit of news was that Snapchat was ending its mobile P2P feature – Snapcash. Something people don’t realize is Snapcash, it runs over the rails of Squarecash. It’s basically the same thing, it’s just integrated with the Snapchap app. It shows people just aren’t using Snapchat for that purpose. And since the demographics are the same for Snapchat and Venmo, people are just using Venmo instead.

Q&A – Jonathan Donovan, Masabi

Will: I’m here this week with my guest, Jonathan Donovan. He is the Chief Product Officer for Masabi, which specializes in mobile ticketing and payments for the transit industry.

This is a topic that comes up when discussing mobile payments; the transit industry is in many ways a nice gateway into mobile payments for the consumer. That might depend on what country you’re in. Do you believe that’s the case, overall, with mobile payment and transit going together?

Jonathan: I do, actually. With transit, you have a twice a day, everyday activity. This means you have the ability to form payment habits. Whether that’s ecommerce, or contactless EMV, the choice of payments gets made twice a day, everyday. It can pass over to other things, whether they’re using Apple Pay or Masterpass. They could tap their card to buy coffee along with their ticket.

There’s different payment forms that are adopted depending on where you are in the globe. What we’re finding, is all these different payment forms are being used in transit. Some of the big payment players are getting involved in making that happen – with things like QR codes at payment gates. I think there’s a strong tie-in.

Will: You mentioned the card networks getting more involved in transit. What do you think about that, is that needed? To get Visa, and the other big players involved with transit and mobile payments?

Jonathan: Yes, I think it makes a lot of sense. Where more card networks are getting involved. Especially when you are moving into the contactless realm. Some of the rules with contactless EMV – the transit rules, which concern different behaviors. And you want the cards to work seamless, so you can there to be a consistentcy of behavior across the different cards. It helps to develop that ecosystem, and making it more seamless.

Will: Speaking of technology, the one thing I noticed on Masabi’s website, this link between mobile ticketing and smart cities. You hear this more with the rise of smart citiies, IoT. Where does that link come from on Masabi’s end? And where do you see it going in the future?

Jonathan: When you think of mobility, and a city. It’s one of the key pillars of helping that city operate. Getting people around efficiently and effectively, is so essential to having a city operating as well as it can. Frankly, mass transit is the answer to getting people around efficiently.

We are focused on making sure our goal is to enable that to keep getting where you’re going better. We need to be the fastest route for innovation for those agencies, and make the innovation as easy as possible. Then we start to go into what sort of different information, and data that can help those cities. Showing how people are getting around, what the peak times, and how you can optimize the process to make it easier.

Because you are using this technology in everyone’s pockets, you can service everybody. You can service someone who needs navigation help. If you can provide that sort of infrastructure, it goes a long way into easing the flow of the city.

Will: Where does the Uber integration come into the idea of keeping people moving, smart cities, mobile ticketing. How does the partnership with Uber come into it?

Jonathan: We’re excited about the partnership with Uber. A couple of years ago, we were planning the future of ticketing. We saw the rise of these alternative channels. We thought that providing these technology capabilities to allow people to connect different types of journeys together, but do so more seamlessly, was going to be key. We developed a SDK, which provides components third party developers or app providers can put into their own app. They can allow riders to buy tickets, and use tickets in their app, make it seamless for what they do.

For Uber, it means through embedding our SDK, the rider will be planning a journey, they’ll be able to see other options as well. With mass transit, they’ll be able to buy a ticket and use that ticket in an app they already have, the Uber app. It makes it so much easier to link back together with their other journeys.

We ran a survey towards the end of last year, looking at how people traveled. So many journeys are linked, linked between private and public mobility. Providing a model allows that to happen more seamlessly. You can just say ‘I want to go to place X’, and your journey gets planned and shows the best way to get there. If you can transact in a single, simple way, to get all those steps paid for in advance, without downloading anything else; that’s the steps we see as adding mobility as a service.

Will: Jonathan, this is so interesting to me as someone who lives in New York City. I call myself a transit kid. I want to thank you for coming on the show this week. We will talk again somewhere down the road. Thank you Jonathan.

Jonathan: Thank you for inviting me Will, I look forward to speaking to you again.

Q&A – Christopher Hall,

Will: I’m here with my guest on the editor corner, Christopher Hall. He is the director for the Interactive Customer Experience Association. Which is a part of Networld Media Group. Thanks for coming on this week.

Christopher: Great to be here, Will. Thanks for having me.

Will: We’re fresh off the ICX Summit, still fresh in our minds. I just ran a story about the Taco Bell keynote. Give me an idea of the mobile related topics at the ICX Summit – personalization, and just the overall customer experience. With the Taco Bell article, there’s a mobile element to all of this.

Christopher: Totally there is. Rafik Hanna of Taco Bell talked about this, John Padgett from Carnival Cruises, our opening speaker, talked about whether it’s mobile, mobile adjacent, or other technology, the customer has to be at the center of it. That applies whether you are developing a mobile app, and how to make it with the customer at the heart of it.

If you are a customer facing brand, retail, restaurant, hotel, you are a customer experience company. You aren’t a retailer anymore, or a restaurant. You are a customer experience company that sells food. An exec at Domino’s said  we’re not a pizza company anymore, we’re a technology company that sells pizza. And other companies are waking up and realizing it, whether it’s engaging with a mobile app, or ecommerce.

Will: Before I ask you about the association, how many times did Amazon Go come up at the summit?

Christopher: (Laughter) I certainly lost count, and I’ve even written about it, in a couple of blogs on the website. Amazon Go is what everyone is talking about, but there is other stuff out there. There is a swedish company piloting a project in Shanghai, it’s a RV pop-up shop. It is a store on wheels, that will drive into a place overnight and open up in the morning. It is unattended retail. You walk in, scan your phone, so it has your payment info. You can buy records, shoes, what have you, you walk out and it charges your card. There’s nobody there, no cash register. It’s all RFID and video cameras. They know what you’re picking up, and walking out with.

I think it’s pretty neat. Can you imagine Banana Republic decided to have pop-up shops they drove around the neighborhood. Like a modified food truck.

Will: It’s interesting because someone made a point to me about Amazon Go; China has been doing this stuff for awhile already. We tend to forget about what happens over seas.

One last point, the ICXA, and you’re the director there. Give me a high level as to what is going on with the association, and how they can join.

Christopher: What we do is simple. We try to connect people so they can create transcendent customer experience – brands with tech suppliers, agencies, subject matter experts. Brands with other brands, our great success stories have come from members of our advisory board. For instance, Under Armour and Marriott. You wouldn’t think an athletic apparel could learn much from a hotelier. They’ve hosted each other at their innovation labs, they’ve learned from each other. What works for you, might work for me.

We’re even connecting suppliers with other suppliers. A lot of deployments, or mobile deployments, these days, they aren’t done by one person or supplier. So if we can connect a display manufacturer, with a software manufacturer, and a mobile app designer; they can work together to create a partnership to deliver a solution to a retailer or restaurant. Then that’s a success for us, we’re trying to put everyone together to drive the industry.

Joining the association is really easy. Just go to, and click “join now”. We have it all right there, different tiers of membership. Some packages are geared towards brands, retailers or restaurants. We have a huge spectrum of people, some smaller members, and some huge metropolitan airports, and globe spanning tech providers. We’re a relatively young organization, so if you think about joining, come aboard and we can set the direction we all go.

Will: Thanks for taking the time to talk about that. I will see you next month in Chicago, for CONNECT.

Christopher: Thank you Will, I will see you soon.

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