Mobile & Online Payments

Improving the consumer payment experience

Improving the consumer payment experience. Main photo: DGLimages, Shutterstock.com
Written by JP Nicols

JP Nicols follows up his podcast interview with Capital One’s Tom Poole with a summary of the discussion around improving mobile wallets.

I’m continuing my look behind the scenes at Capital One to see how it’s using technology, innovation and design to create a better banking experience. Recently at Money2020, I spent some time with Tom Poole, managing vice president for digital at Capital One. I heard Tom speak on a panel called ‘The Role of Mobile Wallets in Streamlining Online and Mobile App Payments’ at the conference, and I asked him afterwards about his comments in the panel. I also recorded the interview for a Breaking Banks podcast.

Listen to the interview here (opens in a new window).

Tom Poole, payments expert from Capital One.Poole sees three types of mobile wallet. First are the kind from tech giants that are focused on paying at the point of sale and leverage the capabilities of their device, such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. Second are those from merchants that focus on their loyalty programmes, such as Starbucks. Finally, there are mobile wallets from banks, and Poole thinks banks have unique advantages in information and control. The bank authorises the transaction, so they are the first to know when a transaction was approved, what it was for, who it was with, and so on. This information can be leveraged to notify the customer on duplicate charges, or if a recurring charge jumped 50% from the month before, or that a trial period expired and they’re now paying a recurring monthly fee, and so on.

There’s a lot of buzz in the industry about making payments “frictionless”, but that’s not always a good thing. “Everybody wants to carve out steps that feel unnecessary or not value-adding to the payment,” he says, but “there are times when friction is a good thing. Sometimes I need to be told that I’m about to pay for something that would completely be off of my radar screen.”

In fact, customers like certain kinds of “friction”, such as notifications that give them knowledge and insights about where their money is going. “It appalls anybody paying five dollars for a subscription to a website they’re no longer using and don’t have need for.”

Poole says that the great thing about the customer experience in payments is that none of it is about the payment – it’s all about the information and experience that surrounds that payment. So his team is focused on making sure customers get the right information at the right time to make better decisions, and they work to bring in resources to help them save money and time.

Low-fidelity prototypes

Many of the themes around experience design and a “test and learn” culture that come up in my interview with Scott Zimmer, Capital One’s global head of design, also came up with Tom Poole. He described the user labs inside Capital One’s buildings, and how his team uses them to find out how customers actually interact with its products, sometimes finding that some of its “great ideas” turn out not to resonate with customers.

They use low-fidelity prototypes and mockups to get more honest reactions from users. Customers often don’t want to insult the feelings of the team if they’re presented with something very done and polished that obviously took a lot of work. Even with that amount of preparation, it still might be the wrong experience, so they pay a lot of attention to how real customers are reacting to finished products too.

Poole described an example where customers thought a ‘Tap to Pay’ button on their mobile wallet app was broken because it took them over to Apple Pay. It turned out they were looking for full bill pay functionality behind that button. The team subsequently relabelled the button to read “Apple Pay”, and now the button does exactly what customers are expecting.

This insight also caused the team to add a link to bill pay, which was in the Capital One main banking app, a feature they originally had no idea that customers would want in the mobile wallet app. “Two sources of customer frustration gone,” Poole says, “but it took a lot of fine-tuning to realise exactly that consumer expectations about what the app would do, and what we as designers thought it should do, were totally different.”

Even with all of this effort, customer experience and service design are still more art than science. As Tom Poole puts it: “There are a thousand ways to mess up a feature, and really only one or two to get it exactly right.”

READ NEXT: Building a mobile wallet that customers want

– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. JP would like to thank Capital One for sponsoring his posts and podcasts and for providing access to its team, but points out that all opinions expressed are still his alone. Main photo: DGLimages, Shutterstock.com

About the author

JP Nicols

JP Nicols has been internationally recognized as a leading voice for innovation, strategy and leadership, and his work has been featured in some of the industry’s top publications and conferences.A former senior bank executive, he is Managing Director of the FinTech Forge, and founder of the Bank Innovators Council which is now a part of Next Money, a global community committed to reinventing financial services through design, innovation and entrepreneurship.

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