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Report: Loyalty tops wishlist for mobile wallet adoption

A new MasterCard report reveals that lack of consumer awareness isn't the issue preventing widespread adoption of mobile wallets. The main roadblock, according to MasterCard: major retail brands who have delayed or thus far refused to integrate their loyalty programs with mobile wallets - even though consumers say loyalty integration is the number one feature that would drive adoption. If retailers' long-term goal is to build personalization, relevance, and a frictionless experience into their customer relationships, then the question begs: What are we waiting for?
 
By Rick Ferguson
 
Business Intelligence has the summary of the new MasterCard Digital Payments study, which analyzed over three million social media conversations to determine consumer awareness of and interest in mobile wallet payments. The report found that, despite mobile wallet payments comprising just one percent of total retail sales volume, consumer awareness of mobile payments is actually high. Number one on the consumer wishlist for functions that would drive mobile wallet adoption: loyalty program integration. BI links the MasterCard study with a recent Urban Airship survey finding that 67 percent of consumers surveyed rate loyalty program integration as tops on their list of desired features.
 
If that's the case, then why aren't more retailers integrating thier loyalty programs with mobile wallets? According to BI, the problem is one familiar to Wise Marketer readers: the balkanization of mobile payments, with retailers either forgoing mobile wallet integration in favor of their own proprietary mobile payment and loyalty apps, or forgoing loyalty altogether. Money quote from BI:
 
"Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung pay each support loyalty card integration in their mobile wallets, which could encourage habit formation, but many major retailers like Walmart and CVS are holding back on loyalty or payments integration to boost adoption of their own wallets. This could be creating fragmentation in the industry that's hurting mobile wallet products overall. And though wallets like Apple Pay have achieved a few notable transit integrations in the US, availability is largely low — for now."
Everyone agrees that mobile payments combined with loyalty integration offers the best path forward for retailers looking to leverage the mobile device to offer personalized, relevent, and value-added rewards and recognition that drive profitable relationships with best customers. We appear, however, to be caught in a chicken-and-egg scenario: retailers are waiting for consumer demand to spike before shoveling dollars behind mobile loyalty integration, while consumers are waiting for those features to appear before deciding to forgo the ease and familiarity of plastic payment cards in favor of mobile payments.
 
If that's the case, then surveys like MasterCard's provide important data points in the drive toward mobile wallet adoption. Sure, MasterCard may have a dog in this hunt - but in the case of retail consumers, the heart wants what it wants.
 
Rick Ferguson is the CEO and Editor in Chief of the Wise Marketer Group.