The Buzz - Mobile Payments
Mobile payments using near field communication (NFC) technology are becoming increasingly mainstream in the US, but in the UK it is a fledgling field. Ipsos MORI Digital conducted some social listening research to see what is being said about mobile payments online. Social listening provides us with a way to see what people are saying about a topic, issue or brand in their own natural environment, without being asked. So what is being said about mobile payments online?
The volume of content fluctuates dramatically from week to week. One interesting finding was that when the weekly volume curve was overlaid with the volumes for only the most influential news sites and blogs, the shape was very similar – the inference being that the chat is extremely news-driven with little “background” chatter at this stage.
The value of a word cloud is limited by the natural language processing that powers it, and automated clouds are no substitute for manual analysis.
Nevertheless, they are useful insofar as they give a topline impression of main recurring themes and phrases. Barclays new Pingit service is prominent, as is a story about Verizon Mobile in the US blocking Google Wallet.
One of the challenges presented by social media listening research is sifting real, consumer-generated content from automated feeds, bots, and marketing material. A top line browse of messages reveals that much of the discussion around mobile payments seems to be from technology journalists and blogs – much of the content filtering through from the US. There does not seem to be a great deal of consumer chat.
In order to dig into individual consumer opinions of digital payments, we simply added “I” to the search query – a blunt instrument but surprisingly effective for finding personal reactions, mainly on Twitter, rather than tech blog posts. We then took a sample of 100 messages, manually filtering out any posts which were not judged to be consumer-generated, and manually coded for sentiment and key themes.
Of brands mentioned online, Google Wallet comfortably leads the way – however, data here is skewed as the “Wallet” branding now incorporates the old “Checkout” online payment service. Starbucks’ “pay by app” service also attracts some buzz, as does PayPal. However PayPal - whose service is cloud-based rather than explicitly mobile - have publicly criticised NFC technology.
Overall consumer sentiment towards the mobile wallet is very mixed, with plenty of polarised views. In our sample, positive sentiment (39%) comfortably outweighed negative (16%). Also notable were the 22% who were unsure of where they stood and were asking for the opinions of others. Consumers actively ask for more information about payment technologies on social media channels.
Looking more deeply at the underlying reasons, the positivity is hard to define but there is plenty of excitement and anticipation about mobile payments’ impending arrival in the UK – alongside frustration that the technology is taking a long time to be implemented. In a fast-changing environment, concepts often come to fruition in a matter of weeks or months, and the dripfeed of news stories about digital wallet systems is exasperating when consumers feel that the product is still a long way off.
On the down side, there are concerns that security might be compromised. It seems that conceptually, some people find it hard to believe that such a physically vulnerable item like a mobile could be as secure as existing payment methods. In addition, some consumers who have access to one of the existing products report technical difficulties, as well as overly complicated setup processes.
Clearly this does not tell the whole story: those discussing mobile payments online are likely to be early adopters and there is no historic data to benchmark against. We will return to this topic in a few months time and have a look at how things have changed
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