In casually walking Bedford Street in Brooklyn, New York, I noticed several things. First, every single person is dressed in hipster-trendy outfits, which could make you feel really unfashionable. New York City is an American hub of high fashion but walking along the homes of New Yorkers shows that these residents walk their talk.
The other thing I notice is that everyone is light years ahead on technology. Don’t misunderstand me… I’m not saying the rest of the country is missing out on the hover boards that New Yorkers have straight out of Back to the Future II. I’m saying New York, as a people, as an economically thriving metropolis, has adopted technologies in effective ways; they’re truly integrated into their lives and make things more efficient. Which is the whole point of new technologies.
A few of the technologies that are clearly integrated into New York’s daily pulse include:
- Mobile Payment by the customer
Many apps have been pushed out that support mobile payment. The first ones that come to mind from back home in Austin, Texas, include Starbucks (upload money, almost like a gift card, and pay from your cell phone screen in the store to stack up rewards), or Belly (offering deals through several local restaurants who offer rewards when you scan the app).
When I am in Austin and see a friend take out their phone to pay, it’s because we are at a very specific store that offers a mobile payment (i.e., Starbucks). Also, the store is likely where the friend frequents enough to remember to take out their phone to pay with (i.e., Starbucks). When a friend pays with their phone, most everyone in the surrounding proximity gives the, “Well, look at you Mr. Fancy Pants” stare or comment. Back home in Austin, paying with a cell phone is still an unnatural reach for payment, away from the casual wallet reach.
In New York City, I have seen at least twice as many customers whip out their cell phones to make a payment. They have truly started to make the switch to pulling out their PayPal app, or other scanning or Near Field Communication (NFC)-powered payment option. It’s surprising where mobile payment options are found as well. Coffee shops of all kinds (from Starbucks to Mom n’ Pop shops), clothing and retail shops, book stores, grocers, etc.
I think my favorite instance was seeing a jogger come into a cafe to purchase a bottle of water. Instead of pulling out a wallet or cash, or even a credit card, he paused his music on his phone, opened his PayPal app and scanned his screen to pay. His apartment keys were tied to his shoe lace but the rest of his life (his music, his phone, his map, his health / running tracker AND his wallet) were all on his phone. (Someday he won’t have to have his physical key tied to his shoe lace either!)
- Mobile payment by the business
Maybe this is obvious but, before the consumers can engage with mobile payment technology, the store has to OFFER the option. Most businesses are looking towards mobile payments.
And, if a business is not offering a “scan your mobile phone here” payment method, they at least are using their own mobile devices to accept payment. Almost everywhere I go, someone is taking orders on their tablet, with a “square” plugged in if it’s an iOS device to accept payment or they are connected to some other type of mobile phone swipe or scanning device.
Again, it’s amazing what businesses are using mobile devices to accept payments. It’s more than established businesses. It’s also street vendors, with blankets of vintage Batman signs, and “I <3 NY” shirts; it’s food vendors selling every type of non-alcoholic beverage you could want and a hotdog; it’s the vegan ice cream truck in Williamsburg or the Chinese-owned Taco shop in the Bronx. Mobile payments are everywhere.
- Apple Pay
Don’t get too excited. No, NYC hasn’t adapted this overnight. But I wouldn’t put it past them.
Apple’s Apple Pay is revolutionizing the entire mobile payment process for both consumers and business owners. As we have seen, several apps have tried to offer mobile payment but it’s been a hard take for the majority of users (outside of NYC). Apple Pay will store credit card information on your phone (or watch) so that you can instantly share information securely to complete a transaction. Apple has enough of a loyal customer base that it’s likely to be adopted by their iPhone users.
As for businesses, it will be a great investment. Customers will eliminate the 200 million swipes that happen with a credit card every year. Online stores will completely eliminate the hassle of typing in the 16-digit code and the not-so-secure “security code” on the back of a card. The security breaches that happened at Home Depot and Target will effectively be eliminated because information will stay private. If a phone is stolen, codes can be turned off so you won’t lose your information, like you would with a plastic credit card.
If society does adapt the concept of mobile pay, e-commerce and in-person purchases will be more seamless, increasing sales; security will change the way we handle losing our cards or getting information stolen; and, potentially the most interesting: wallets will slowly become obsolete. The one city I know we can look to to adopt this revolutionary payment system is New York City.
But what about you? What about your city? Are ‘we’ ready to make wallets obsolete and antiquated?