Welcome to What’s Trending In Payments – a weekly look at the most popular, irreverent and important stories the payments industry had to offer over the past five days. Which companies grabbed the most headlines – for better or for worse – this week, and which topics have the industry abuzz with intrigue, laughter or disbelief? Featuring breakdowns from the PYMNTS.com staff and commentary by Karen Webster, here’s our take on what all of you payments peeps thought.
TOPIC ONE: It’s Secure, It’s In The Cloud, It’s … Secure Cloud
Why It’s Hot
Our most popular piece this week by far came from Karen’s analysis of Secure Cloud: a new project from The Clearing House that will aim to make mPayments more secure by changing how cardholder data is stored and transmitted.
If done right, Secure Cloud could make life better for everyone involved in the mobile payments ecosystem, reducing fraud and helping banks to innovate their mobile solutions through cooperation with third-party wallets. There are some other interesting potential use-cases here that Karen alluded to in her piece, but I’ll let her break those down for you.
"Hey, hey, hee, hee get onto my Cloud …” is what the famous Rolling Stones song should be changed to now – and certainly what The Clearing House is hoping banks do very soon. Secure Cloud is a really interesting idea that if executed the way it is envisioned, could ignite mobile payments. And that’s for no other reason than, what issuer would want to be “the” issuer that wasn’t the “secure” mobile payments option in a consumers’ wallet? Kudos to The Clearing House for showing the sector how a 160-year-old company innovates. Take that Silicon Valley!
Because sometimes, at the end of a long week, it’s nice to hear an atta-boy.
TOPIC TWO: Social Upset: Yelp Leads In Online-To-Offline Conversion
Why It’s Hot
As our Editor Pete Rizzo broke down on Tuesday, a new Nielsen study revealed some surprising (at least to me) stats bout which social media site is most effective in turning online interest into offline sales. It’s not the darling of the 20-something crowd Facebook or the tantalizing Twitter, but rather good ole’ recommendations site Yelp.
Given the nature of what Yelp does, perhaps this shouldn’t have caught me so off guard. But constantly hearing about Facebook’s advertising prowess and targeted Tweets and the like has conditioned me to think about those two players as the most powerful social converters. Turns out that’s not the case, and Yelp coming out on top signifies to me that shoppers aren’t using social to buy: they’re using social to compare.
Seems when consumers need a little Help they turn to Yelp! And it sounds like if Yelp wants to turn referrals into dollars they can put in their own pockets, they better turn to a mobile payments player to help them do that. My Yelp referral is for them to come to PYMNTS Summer School and listen to the LevelUp case. LevelUp started the very same way, and decided that closing the loop with payments where they could actually prove their programs drove incremental value was their ticket. We can even introduce them to a few mobile payments players who might even be willing to help them! I hear it has a 5-Star rating already!
This tweet highlights one of the strongest findings from the report, and helps to illustrate just how successful Yelp is when it comes to turning online curiosity into online sales. Who knew that Yelp did more than provide restaurants with small stickers!
TOPIC THREE: New Lows In NFC Innovation
Why It’s Hot
U.S. Bank announced on Wednesday that it’s taking its NFC-enabling iPhone platform out of its beta test phase. Called the U.S. Bank Go Mobile platform, the solution works by letting iPhone 4 and 4s users add an NFC-enabled case to their smartphones. The case, made by Device Fidelty, also promises to extend the iPhone’s battery life: a useful feature that appeals to plenty of power iPhone users. But as for making NFC the draw with the cases, well …
For those of you scoring at home, this means that users of old iPhones anywhere in the U.S. can now add weight and bulk to their smartphones in order to use a technology that barely any merchants accept!
The platform was previously available only in Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah. Quite frankly, I’m surprised those cities didn’t see major upswings in population during the trial.
I was JUST talking to someone about this the other day. I have only four questions for anyone who thinks this is a great idea: 1. Who does most of the shopping in physical retail stores? (that would be women) 2. What do people like the most about their iPhone? (it is sleek and not bulky) 3. How many merchants accept NFC payments today? (that would be very few of them) and 4. How many women would want to add bulk to their phones to use the phone at, say, not many of the places they want to shop? (that would be none). I just don’t get why we keep beating and beating and beating that dead NFC horse.
Yes, because the iPhone was just about to become obsolete before this groundbreaking solution from U.S. Bank. If there is any evidence that iPhone users are chomping at the bit for NFC payments, I’d like to see it.