This post first appeared here but I made an update.
Every pundit’s predictions seem to coalesce around two points:
1. Smartphones are more ubiquitous than ever
However, the ‘year of mobile payments’ has been predicted from as far back as 2008 and all the predictions seem to miss a fundamental point. The act of taking out a credit card or debit card and waving it in front of a machine is just as convenient, if not more so, than whipping out your phone, finding the right app, and waving it in front of a machine. The user experience is the same.
But here’s a market where mobile payments might catch on – person-to-person payments.
Your roommate’s name is on the utility bills. You can write a cheque to pay your share, which requires your roommate to remember to deposit into their bank account. You could send an email transfer, which requires effort to fill out and effort on your roommate’s part to receive. Or, you could send the money via mobile payment in one fell swoop while sitting in your living room.
You need to collect the team fees for your rec league soccer team. You can have everyone give you cheques or cash at the first game, or chase down individual email money transfers. Or, you can collect them all at once via mobile-to-mobile payment after you start the year 1-0.
You’re at a restaurant with a group of friends that won’t offer separate bills. You can all scrounge for cash, or put it all on one person’s credit card and have the others send that person a mobile payment on the spot.
As people continue to move away from cash and towards card-based payment, person-to-person payments are the likely growth area for mobile payment systems. Right now you can make person-to-person payments using email money transfer, PayPal Mobile, or a person-to-person payment app like Venmo (which is owned by PayPal), each with its own user experience quirks and fees. I’m not going to predict which technology solution will win but I do think we will eventually see a surge in mobile payments, just not necessarily by consumers to retailers in their stores.
OK I’ve thought of two user experiences where paying by phone is more convenient than your credit card:
- Parking: Here paying by cell phone takes away the inconvenience of having to walk to the machine get a ticket printed then walk back to your car to stick it on the dash. Mobile payments also allows you to extend the parking time without having to rush back to the car and put money into the machine.
- Uber: Self-explanatory.
Read a fascinating story in Read Write Web about university admissions in the age of Facebook. Here’s the gist of it. University admissions officers are creeping on prospective student’s Facebook Pages to help them judge their admission-worthiness. Knowing this, some high school students beef up their privacy settings. Others take a more inventive approach and pepper their timelines with admission-worthy ‘accomplishments’ such as ‘What a rewarding night serving food at the soup kitchen’.
I’m certain that the first thought going through some readers’ minds is, “Shame on them for lying like that.” But consider this. Certain scholarships require that the student “friend” the sponsor before being considered (I guess to get around the student’s privacy settings). Now why are these scholarship judges so prying? Shouldn’t the essay the student has to write be enough to go with? And isn’t it kind of creepy that you’re snooping on some teenager’s timeline that’s likely filled with a few party pics?
C’mon adults set a better example. Judge students on merit not whether they post a few party pics to share with their friends. Besides, a lot of these ‘character’ based judgements were originally meant for discriminatory purposes anyway.
Seven different reaction to Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement at the Facebook Developer’s Conference (aka F8).
1. The Apocalyptic: Facebook is taking over the world! Say goodbye to privacy forever!
2. The Neo-Luddite: Why is Facebook doing such a drastic change, I love Facebook as it is and I don’t want to have to learn something new. I’m also suspicious of all software updates.
3. The Pundit: Facebook’s new timeline and what it means for [insert career-group and/or field of study]
4. The Self-Help Post: So Facebook has this new timeline feature. Here’s how to use it…and protect yourself.
5. The Fan Boy: All hail the Zuck! Look how cool Facebook is! G-
6. The Pissed off Google Plus Fan Boy: Wow, Facebook is running out of ideas. They’re just stealing from Google Plus. BTW, I worship at the Church of Google.
7. The Pop-Culture Nut: “Likes” the Andy Samberg opening video.
8. The Mashup Artist: If Don Draper had Facebook Timeline
9. The Clueless Sharer: Your non-techie friend who knows nothing about Timeline but posted the Don Draper Facebook Timeline video because it was the beloved Mad Men Carousel scene.
10. The Social Media Curmudgeon: I told you Face-whatever was a waste of time
With the resignation of Steve Jobs comes a plethora of retrospectives and many lists of quotes. This one really stuck out for me.
“It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
BusinessWeek interview, May 1998
It’s very similar to something Henry Ford allegedly said, “”If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
I’m a digital and social media marketer. I don’t do focus groups. I do a somewhat digital equivalent. I do conversation audits. Rather than take a panel of a few supposedly randomly chosen people, pay them roughly $50 and ask them a bunch of questions about a product, I look at what people are saying online “in the field” so to speak and derive insights that can inform a client strategy or guide the big idea for a digital campaign. In one respect you could say that I’m trying to figure out what people want and in the Jobsian sense that might mean I’m crowding out the ability to come up with a truly creative or innovative campaign.
Except, when I look at conversations online, I’m not trying to figure out what people want. The conversations that people have online reflect an in-the-moment thought (Twitter, Facebook status updates) or an introspective thought (blogs, tumblr). They’re not answers to leading questions, they’re ‘real’ thoughts. I’m looking for patterns. Patterns in random conversations that will inspire a eureka moment, an insight, so named because you cannot see it until you dive in. If done right, it shouldn’t lead to an incremental improvement. Incremental improvements are somewhat obvious. It should lead to a discovery that sparks something innovative.
Last Wednesday the city of Vancouver was subject to a double tragedy. The Canucks, in a second bid to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, lost game 7. Followed by riots.
I lived in Vancouver for five years and have a great affinity to the city and it’s friendly people. It’s a shame that few bad apples have tarred the image of the city that, last year, hosted the world in the biggest winter show on earth. I’d like to think that this wouldn’t have happened had Team Canada lost the gold medal game.
Fortunately, I’m heartened by the way the city has gotten together to make amends both in the clean up and in bringing the perpetrators to justice. And I’m intrigued by the method in which they’ve done this.
The clean-up was self-organized through several Facebook Pages .
And catching the perpetrators? There’s a Tumblelog collecting riot pictures and shocking ‘confessions’ (and by confessions I mean idiots bragging about what they did) on Facebook and Twitter. There’s also a Facebook Page to do the same. Those who can identify the faces can email the police at firstname.lastname@example.org .
So mob mentality has given way to crowdsourced crime fighting. The question I have is whether the criminal justice system is ready for this. I’m no lawyer but I’ve watched enough Law and Order to know that there of rules of evidence and admissibility, and due process. Are existing laws adequate to cover the evidence gathering activities of our crime fighting citizenry? Are there any technicalities we lay people haven’t thought of that defense lawyers might use to help their clients? I’m asking because I want the perpetrators to answer for their crimes and I don’t want our efforts turned against us. Would love to hear from any legal experts.