At a recent conference a PayPal executive provided critical insights into the rapidly expanding mobile payments industry. But one of his remarks stands above the rest to guide why PayPal could be immensely successful.
The remarkable last week
Investors learned last week that the heated battle between PayPal owner eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and activist investor Carl Icahn had finally come to a close. Icahn officially withdrew his proxy fight to separate PayPal from eBay, and the online auction house in turn agreed to appoint an Icahn-backed new member to its board of directors.
PayPal was also a silver sponsor of the TRANSACT14 conference, which dove into the rapidly changing payments industry. This is quite fitting because PayPal is an active participant in the revolution that is already under way.
The notable quote
PayPal's vice president of retail operations in North America, Brad Brodigan, gave a keynote session entitled "Winning Through Mobile," which addressed the aggressive push PayPal has made into the mobile payments industry.
This might have been Brodigan's money quote when it comes to PayPal: "If we want to see adoption, we have to solve real-world problems for everyday consumers."
Many have claimed the mobile payments industry has established itself as a sure thing and an indisputable change that'll be here within the next few years. After all, PayPal has seen its mobile payments volume grow from $750 million in 2010 to a staggering $27 billion in 2013, an increase of 3,500% in just three years.
However, Brodigan noted that a recent survey suggested only 31% of individuals were interested in using their mobile device to make an in-store payment. While that sounds strikingly low, Brodigan interestingly suggested this was in fact fairly high because consumers aren't actually incentivized to use their mobile wallets.
An interesting paradigm
Consider for a moment making a payment using a mobile device. By the time a phone is unlocked, an app is found and opened, the payment mechanism is accessed, and the code is scanned, it would have been far quicker to use a card or cash. In addition, many mobile payment mechanisms offer no benefits or rewards over a traditional means of payment.
Ultimately, any new technology that is adopted must provide greater rewards and benefits than cost. That certainly applies to mobile payments.
PayPal is seeking to address these obstacles so consumers can have a better payment experience. It is focused on providing customers a means to save time and money, and ultimately to providing more convenience to customers when they make payments.
The focus areas
PayPal wants consumers to save time by ordering ahead at a busy restaurant. Those same customers would be able to make a payment before the meal is over so they don't have to wait. PayPal believes these convenience examples just scratch the service as it relates to saving people time.
It is seeking to allow customers to save money through other means as well. Everyone knows clipping coupons is a process that has been existence for years -- but really it was a painful because it was inefficient. Whether it be clipping, sorting, finding, or any of the other means, couponing at times can cost more in terms of time than it can save with actual money. Yet mobile technologies have a significant opportunity to provide consumers a frictionless and painless way to see and use a coupon.
This benefits both consumers and small businesses. With mobile wallets, smaller merchants can reach out to local consumers, and in turn drive more sales.
Lastly, PayPal is attempting to make consumers' lives better on a day-to-day basis. The mobile payment wallet creates a safe and secure way to access payment data, merchant reward data, and other things so that users are less bogged down by information, ultimately improving the purchase experience of consumers in both payments and general use.
The key takeaway
Brodigan concluded his remarks by saying PayPal believes "we are uniquely positioned to have long-term success in the mobile payments space." If it continues to ensure both the users and merchants see benefits as they adopt its platform, it would be tough to disagree with him.