Pokémon Go has taken the U.S. by storm, to put it mildly. For an app that was released very recently, it already has more users than Twitter.
Currently the app uses mobile payments solely for buying stuff for your Pokémon, but the app already brings in $1.6 million a day in revenue from just the Apple App Store. Pokémon Go's immense popularity provides a glimpse into the future of payments.
The weird thing about Pokémon Go's popularity is that its individual components are not really new. Pokémon has been around for more than 20 years, smartphones have been around for more than a decade, and GPS has existed for much longer than that. Yet it incorporates and packages these technologies into a product that feels fresh and unique. The "ninja" move of taking the "old" and recombining it into something new and powerful is what will drive the financial technology industry forward.
The game incorporates many technologies currently used by the payments industry, falling into a category of what I call the Internet of Commerce Things (IoCT); innovations that help you buy what you want seamlessly.
Geolocation. The first aspect of Pokémon Go and IoCT is geolocation. To play the game, you must walk outside and look for Pokemons, and in order to advance players look for locations to stock up on Pokeballs and treats for their cute fighting monsters.
From apps to beacons, existing location-based technologies abound that look to help consumers find what they like. A successful example of this is the American Express mobile banking app, which notifies you on your smartphone when you are near a store that offers a card-linked discount or deal.
Mobile First. The other focus for Pokémon Go is mobile first; the app doesn't work if you are stuck at the desk. Consumers are using their smartphones more and more and retailers are following them. Last year mobile advertising increased 66% over the prior year and represents more than one-third of the entire digital advertising space.
Ease of Use. The user experience on Pokémon Go is intuitive for even first-time and older users. You don't need to know anything about Pokémon lore or how the card game worked to use the app. The takeaway is to make your products simple to use. Mobile payment products like Samsung Pay are moving toward frictionless transactions through mobile wallets, card-linking and loyalty programs to create experiential shopping transactions. Whole Foods recently launched a chatbot on Facebook Messenger to help people plan meals on the go while shopping at the store.
While the components of the future of payments might not be too different from today's products, future winners in the industry will integrate these components into truly novel consumer experiences. All in all, the future of payments is about to get a lot more fun.
Silvio Tavares is president and CEO of the Cardlinx Association.