Though conventional wisdom says “you can’t be everything to everybody,” conventional wisdom may be due for a digital-age upgrade.
“Mobile obviously, is all about consumer demand, it’s being driven by the consumers. We all want it, myself included. Fast, easy, secure and we want it yesterday. The rest of us are trying to sort out how we, from a retail, from an acquiring, and from an issuer standpoint can deliver what an intelligent, connected consumer is looking for. Developing things like Chase Pay, or mobile, or our retail checkout products are certainly an answer to that. Partnering with entities like Apple Pay is where we think we need to be to provide all things to all consumers at all times – as well as our retailers,” Chase U.S. President of Commerce Solutions Kim Fitzsimmons recently told MPD CEO Karen Webster in a podcast discussion.
Being everything to everyone is a big goal, but then Fitzsimmons has a big job. She joined the team at Chase Commerce Solutions a little under six months ago, in October of 2014 – prior to that she was CEO of Cynergy Data. She also spent eight years at First Data as the Executive Vice President of Retail Alliance Services and Community Banks; as well as President of Independent Distribution for North America – so it’s fair to say that big jobs have a certain appeal to her.
“There’s not enough hours in the day, that is my No. 1 complaint,” she told Webster. “There is a ton of opportunity here, which is one of the main reasons I chose to join Chase Commerce Solutions.”
Mobile, she agreed with Webster, is fundamentally – and quickly – changing the merchant services business as retailers need services that are more tailored, more secure, more adaptable and – ultimately – stickier when it comes to forging their consumer relationships.
“I think the industry is far more advanced and ready for mobile payments,“ she told Webster, as that demand is being stimulated from a variety of angles.
One of which, she said, is undeniably Apple Pay – which is why Chase has been proactive in working with it from the word “go.”
“Certainly Apple has the name, they have the handsets, they have the brand loyalty and awareness from the X, Y and Z generations so they are doing what is best right now as far as passing on engaging conversations. I think it’s a learning experience for all of us, but we’re certainly engaged with them on a day-to-day basis,” she noted.
She also noted that while others have had difficulty getting those conversations to ignite – namely Google and Softcard – Apple was also the beneficiary of good timing, notwithstanding the strengths it brought into the mobile payment arena.
“Talking about security as they launched Apple Pay was really about getting the consumer more comfortable with using their phone because it is now possible to be more secure than it is just carrying a [leather] wallet,” Fitzsimmons told Webster.
Because, as mobile is following consumer concerns, she said, how to navigate a future that seems likely to be populated by attempted cyber fraud from here on out is also critical. Fitzsimmons commented that this has led to a shift in the mobile conversation with their retail partners – with IT guys focused on security taking a much more active role than they have in the past.
“In the past, it was maybe marketing, it was maybe CFO but it is now being driven a lot more by the IT department,” she explained. “Retailers understand they need to be secure everywhere.”
Because she noted – mobile is coming, and with the wave of recent mergers in the ecosystem – PayPal with Paydiant, Google With Softcard and LoopPay with Samsung just to name a few – that wider ignition that has been forecasted for years now feels very close, leaving players scrambling to be the first, and the best.
“Mobile payments will be here sooner rather than later. Everyone is racing to be the first, to have the solution, whatever that solution might be. It’s not just card acceptance via a device at the POS, but I think if you look at the acquisitions and mergers it is about, ‘What other value can we bring to the consumer?’”
For Chase’s part, the value they can bring to the consumer is Chase Pay – which leverages their large network to give consumers an experience that is largely unaffected by data breaches in the standard headache inducing ways.
“Chase Pay is our version of Apple Pay, it’s our mobile wallet. We’re leveraging the 50 million cards we have across the country. It’s value-add for our card base. Retailers can easily enable the Chase Pay button. I’m a cardholder, it’s easy to use at checkout and I don’t have to worry about things like breaches. If there’s a breach and a new card is issued, my credentials are automatically updated, I don’t have to worry about a new password to enter at a Chase Pay website for check out,” Fitzsimmons noted.
Chase Pay is still in beta, and Fitzsimmons says they are “actively recruiting early adopters.” However, she sees what Chase Pay does – removes that friction that consumers encounter when they are burdened by constantly re-entering the same data, and makes it a thing of the past, which fits into her larger vision: to tie the Chase commerce experience to the larger powers and prowess of the Chase enterprise.
“We are looking for how we can not just find exposure but collaborate and really elevate the entire enterprise solution of JPMorgan, because we have a tremendous portfolio of assets to bring to our merchants.”
It is unlikely Fitzsimmons will find more hours in her day – though Webster did make her promise to tell us if she figures out how to do that – but it also seems unlikely that she will be any less busy in her newish position anytime soon.
The mobile field is filling up, and though its ignition has been forecasted for some time now, 2015 does have the feeling of being a year where everyone really gets serious and starts putting their mobile payments money where their metaphorical mouths are. Chase says they are ready to go, with 50 million arrows potentially awaiting to be enabled via a Chase Pay quiver, they seem to be well on their way.