Mobile transacting, payments and marketing have been the next big thing for over a decade, yet have never quite taken off – and the reason has been the lack of an open platform, according to Bevan Ducassse of wiGroup.
“We’ve had hundreds of app developers all trying to own the entire space,” says Ducasse. “So there have been exclusive deals between banks and retailers, for example, or between mobile wallet providers and phone companies. But if there’s one thing we should have learned in the last 20 years and our experience of the Internet, it’s that nobody likes being locked in. Consumers haven’t bought into mobile yet because the offer hasn’t been compelling enough. Consumer adoption is critical.”
With wiGroup, Ducasse has taken a different approach: The Company offers an open and interoperable platform (wiPlatform) that allows any retailer to integrate and immediately begin accepting any kind of mobile transaction or app at their point of sale (POS). The wiPlatform is already providing the technical base for Shoprite’s mobile couponing initiative and enables the MTN Mobile Money offering at Pick n’ Pay.
“POS integration is the critical step,” says Ducasse. “Without it, you can’t do mobile payments and transactions, and you can’t properly implement mobile marketing, or measure its success. But no retailer will go to all the trouble and expense of changing their POS just to enable a single app. We have created a platform with an open API that will allow any app developer to work with any retailer. That opens the way for everybody to benefit from the full richness and diversity of mobile apps…especially consumers. If the consumer, and consumer convenience and value is put at the centre of mobile strategy, then the case for an open platform becomes crystal clear.”
“Right now we’re in a position to say: Whatever app a developer can think of and build, we can make it work for the retailer, ” says Ducasse. “Today transactions are largely driven by coupon and voucher codes; in the future it might be near-field communication (NFC) between the phone and the POS. In either case, with an open platform the retailer only needs to change the POS once to take advantage of all the future opportunities.”
Ducasse says he is already seeing retailers and others put the platform to smart use. “We have one mine, for example, that has partnered with a fast food franchise to offer vouchers to their workers as an extra bonus for overtime work. 96% of those vouchers are redeemed, driving massive extra traffic for the retailer.”
“The innovative possibilities that the wiPlatform enables are bigger than we’d dreamed,” says Ducasse. “We believe that with the barriers between the retailer and the app developer effectively torn down, we will see a flood of innovative apps that offer real value to retailers and consumers alike. At wiGroup we’re all about enabling an open future for mobile transacting and marketing, where everyone wins.”