The mobile channel: It’s not just for shopping

As second-generation mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices emerge and consumers continue to gravitate towards mobile as their main shopping channel, it won’t be long before traditional POS devices and traditional shopping habits are things of the past.

Recent announcements from established software vendors and new start ups like the UK’s Olouris demonstrate the increasing sophistication of second-generation mPOS devices.

Initially conceived as a means for micro-businesses to access electronic payments, the new generation of mPOS devices enable gift and loyalty card support, ordering and queuing and integrations with accounting and inventory management software – quite some distance from merely tapping a card on a phone to accept a payment.

The new generation of mPOS apps looks more like a full business management suite on mobile devices.

Banking apps get stronger, investing and loans down

On the consumer side, new research from shows continued growth in banking and payments app technology – and throws up some bizarre anomalies and directions for the future.

First, the facts: around the world, mobile banking app downloads have now crossed the 500 million per quarter threshold, while digital wallet and payment app growth has slowed and continues to sit just below 500 million downloads.

Interestingly, apps for trading, investing and lending have all seen a downturn in downloads, possibly because banking apps are improving their range of functions to include these areas.

There’s also growing evidence that mobile banking app use is expanding into older demographics at the same time as the functionality of banking apps grows.

2023 Data from UK Finance, for instance, shows that usage among over-55s is now the fastest-growing of all demographics, and grew 52% in the year to January.

Who wins the mobile war?

What’s not clear as yet is who the winners will be in the mobile war.

Makers of traditional, fixed POS devices with limited functionality and expensive upgrade processes should clearly be worried – and they are.

Major device manufacturers such as Ingenico are responding to the threat posed by mobile POS devices by creating their own suite of super-powerful mPOS machines that target major retail chains.

However, the fact that around two-thirds of any developed economy is composed of SMEs that cannot afford costly purpose-built devices suggests that the market – and the margins – for mPOS software is much larger than the POS device market.

“Since there are more SMEs than big retailers, expect mPOS software to win against traditional devices.”

Away from acquiring, data from Visa shows that the older consumers (55-64) who are now picking up mobile apps utilise a wider range of functions inside the app – such as investing and insurance – compared to their younger counterparts.

This fact might explain, in part, why digital-only banks have great brand awareness but lower usage and turnover compared to traditional bank brands.

Whatever the case, it would be foolish to say the least to count today’s high street banks out of the digital economy.

Critics are quick to look at their outdated technology stacks and slow times to market – yet they are trusted (and used) far more than almost all neobanks, especially in Europe, and will be with us for many moons to come.

A final word on fraud: consumers who are still not using mobile banking apps overwhelmingly say this is down to fears of fraud – not misplaced, given the huge rise we’re seeing in fraud attempts over the digital channel.

As consumers increasingly turn to apps, it’s clear that any major fraud event would be a catastrophe – not just operationally and financially, but from the perspective of reputation and future use of these apps.


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