Mobile Payments Made Easy: The PayPal Way

PayPal Canada┬árecently executed a brilliant marketing campaign. For 10 days in July, at each of the 25 participating cafes, the company gave its customers $5 to spend. I’ve had a lot of chocolate croissants in the last few days. The entire customer experience was fantastic.

On Monday morning, I received an excited email from my coworker informing me of this promotion via a local Toronto blog. So I downloaded the mobile app, and signed in. A drawer menu animates out from the left and disappears. Tapping of the menu item, “Shop”, the banner illustrates “PayPal. Now accepted at a Store Near You.” and list of local merchants are populated on the screen. Merchants with special offers are visually differentiated with a green cutout. I recognized a few coffee shops near the office and as promised, tapping into merchant listing screen I see the $5 offer with the call-to-action of “Check In to Pay”.

On my way to work the next morning, I drop into one of the listed merchants. At the cashier, I see a vinyl that reads “Pay with the PayPal app here.” I place my order and request to pay with the application as I launch it. When I check in to pay I see my profile picture appear on the tablet across from me. The barista confirms who I am and within seconds I am out the door with two chocolate croissants. A few seconds later, I receive a notification of my transaction. I never had to reach for my wallet.

This interaction with PayPal and the cafe left me incredibly impressed. It embodies the very ideals of user experience–that is, it “encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products… a seamless merging of the services of multiple disciplines, including engineering, marketing, graphical and industrial design, and interface design” (NN Group).

As a payment intermediary, PayPal has two primary user groups: the merchants and the buyers. Through this interaction, they managed to solve a bunch of challenges that are important to their audience and business:

  • Acquiring new users (buyers and merchants) at a max cost of $125 ($5 * 25) per user
  • Getting the application onto the users’ device
  • Smoothing the payment process for merchants
  • Getting buyers used to the idea of mobile payments
  • Creating brand awareness
  • Creating social media buzz

Furthermore, this was done through a multi-channel and multi-device environment. Buyers had their phones, merchants operated from their tablets, the announcement reached multiple Toronto blogs, and the information scent was strengthened at the point of sale through marketing collateral (signs, vinyls).

Their target audience and forum for this particular campaign was also spot on. Toronto is abundant in strategically located indie coffee shops, including cafes on Queen West, Spadina and King, Kensington Market, and Yorkville. Their customers tend to be active on social media and open to adopting new technology. PayPal is simply piggy-backing on an existing morning ritual.

It’s this very spirit of user experience that I try to convince our clients of every time they ask for a mobile application. Think beyond a responsive website. Who are your users? How do you service their needs? How will it impact your business?

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