Giving by Google Wallet: Will tomorrow ever come?

2 Oct


Predicting the future, especially anything to do with mobile phones, the mobile internet and mobile applications, can be a tough thing to engage in. By tough, I mean many folks miss the mark ranging from predicting what they think will happen to completely missing new behaviors, opportunities and dominant players.

Who would have predicted that today Blackberry would have roughly a 4% share of the phone OS market when in 2009 they had 50%? Same thing with Microsoft and anything they do in the mobile space. The rise of Angry Birds? Who saw that one coming? I could go on and on about the hits and misses.

One pat on my own back: in 2003 I envisioned the popularity of live streaming TV on phones and now, as it was back in 2003, live video on mobile phones is huge and will get bigger.

As I see the predictions made in the mobile space, I always assess if I see the same outcome; the same prediction.

The mobile prediction that motivated me to write this blog was the one made by yet another self-proclaimed nonprofit technology expert last week. It goes something like this: donors to nonprofits don’t want to fill out credit card forms on their phone. The expert’s “gut” told her that Google Wallet would rule the day in the future of mobile giving.

When I read this one I paused and said to myself, “Really?”. I wasn’t feeling it at all.

You see, I already know that millennials have said that they want to give when they’re in the moment via a mobile-optimized website. We’ve seen this on our own platform and as easy as it is to give via a RAZ Mobile site, I think this sentiment as expressed by millennials applies to other age groups as well. It has to be easy to give on a mobile phone.

What’s more, one need not fill out an online form but once if they choose the option of securely storing their online form information in much the same manner as online music stores or popular shopping sites. RAZ Mobile does this today.

I wonder too at the notion of having credit card information in my phone, PIN-protected or not. That scares me a bit. I have had my wallet stolen and that was not pleasant to experience at all. Mobile phone theft is prevalent and problematic today. I don’t see this changing when so many will give you cash today for a stolen phone, no questions asked.

I’ve also swapped OS once in my mobile life and this means that now I would have to go to the iOS equivalent if I was using Wallet and as you can imagine, not all the places I had used Wallet at would be Passbook (iOS) compatible.

Then there’s the issue of carriers like Verizon being in their own mobile payments network called ISIS. Not every carrier sells Wallet phones nor is every phone sold a Wallet phone.

Merchants that accept Wallet have to buy terminals for accepting Wallet payments. Right now, from what I’ve been able to glean from Wikipedia and other statements about Wallet is that Wallet payments have to be made by swiping your phone on one of these terminals. This model of giving means you have to line folks up to make donations by swiping their phone and you’d have to become a Wallet “merchant”.

Google has created a closed system that you must be part of to use it. They say it’s open but I can’t use my stored credit card to make a donation “off-system”.

This is where the Wallet “gut” feeling lets the expert down and why I don’t see Wallet becoming a force for mobile donations.

How does Wallet leverage social media?

Standing in line to swipe my phone sounds like a silly way to give.

Why not use an online form that lets anyone with a browser give? With the fractious and confusing deployment of Wallet, all nonprofits would get better reach and results by leveraging an online form, completed regardless of where the donor is at.

As you rightly sense from this post, I don’t see Wallet being a viable channel for accessing mobile donations from your supporters. They have the capability to give via their phone today; they have a browser, a credit card and they can complete a simple short form and give when they feel the impulse.

Our customers are seeing this very thing happen. Our largest one day total for one customer’s campaign was over $10,000.

I’m here to predict the expert’s gut has let her down.

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