When you hear the term M2M, probably the last thing that comes to mind is "social interaction." As I've posted before, the bread and butter for connected devices is typically industrial systems that make up the "connected" car, or streamline management of global supply chains or track and diagnose the health of an industrial pipeline, for example. But one key M2M application, that of mobile payments, appears to be gaining value as a means of contributing to the collective social fabric of our Facebook-driven society.
This week, Tricia Duryee over at AllThingsD reported on a new development in the mobile payment market. Namely, American Express has identified teenagers as a key opportunity for mobile payment adoption, but not for the reasons you'd necessarily expect. Yes, mobile phones are more embedded in the life of a modern teen, but the opportunity for mobile payments is more directly tied to the social awkwardness of that age, particularly when it comes to money matters. Bottom line is that kids typically don't have much money, nor the experience with managing it, much less the opportunity to hold their peers accountable when a debt is owed.
The social scene, which is now overwrought with social media, is highly visible in teen life. And teen life is driven mainly by cash, since most are not yet able to obtain a credit card. How many times in high school were you out to eat with your friends but had to ask, "Can you spot me? I'll get you back." Or, if you were the one who lent the cash, were you ever entirely comfortable calling out the IOU? And how long was it reasonable to wait before asking? Then, how long before you either forgot about it or it was so long in the past that it was socially unacceptable to continue nagging about the debt owed? In these cases, the mobile phone frees these kids to make the purchase or pay their friend back right then-and-there. It effectively acts as the credit card that would be used in similar adult situations.
To me, this is a fantastic and very innovative approach that demonstrates how mobile payments can solve a real-world problem, vs. just being another cog in the culture of extreme convenience, or "couch commerce." Ultimately, it is another example of how M2M is becoming intertwined with so many aspects of daily life and, dare I say it, improving on the quality of life by making an awkward teenager's social angst just a little less anxious.
Stay tuned as I'll circle back to this theme of unique "social connections" that are enhanced by M2M connections in future posts.
By Stein Soelberg, Director of Marketing
Stein leads a team whose responsibility is to own the branding, advertising, customer engagement, loyalty, partnership and public relations initiatives designed to propel KORE into the 21st century. With over 15 years of technology marketing experience in the business to business software, Internet services and telecommunications industries, Stein brings a proven track record of launching successful MVNOs and building those brands into leaders.