Mobile payment has been around for some time. In some cases, there are mobile apps you can download from your bank, allowing you to do with your smartphone whatever you can do online. There are also services like PayPal for person-to-person or person-to-business payments and mobile wallets such as Vodafone’s m-Pesa, which is branchless banking.
But there is an increasing trend to use chat platforms to perform financial transactions. WeChat has been doing this for some time and has become one of the largest mobile money services in China. The same for Line in Japan, Facebook, and possibly WhatsApp as well. So why the trend?
To me, it’s all about convenience. While I would never do this since I don’t use chat platforms too much, and I’m not sure I’d be comfortable paying using a chat service, I’m also not the target audience for this. I mean, I even still email and use the mobile phone as, well, a phone. But if you are living your life on WhatsApp, or WeChat, or Line, or anything similar, then whatever you can do from there to simplify your life makes sense.
In the simplest case, if you want to move from chat and typing to actually talking (it IS faster I think for most people), then you can do that. Taking that steps further, there are plenty of other things you might want to do adjacent to your app. But it takes effort. If you don’t have to get off the app and log in someplace else, the better!
You might need to send money to your friends. It’s easy to find them online on the chat, and it’s done. With the banking app, to send money to another person, there are verification text messages involved in order to get approval. I find that reassuring, but then again, I’m not the target audience for this. With the Chat app, you add your credit card information or bank info ahead of time so it’s all ready. So when you’re ready to send or receive money, you simply type in the amount in the chat app, and it’s done. Or you might be chatting with a sales rep (or more likely a bot) and want to purchase something right there. Done.
So, yes, I get it, it’s about convenience, and it makes sense. And we’re likely going to see more and more tie-ins to chat platforms, given their “ownership” of YOU, the subscriber.