This is probably the most common type of M-commerce, and the version that’s been around the longest.
This involves a setting such as a grocery store, department store, or any kind of retailer where you would expect to see a traditional cash register. Those cashiers are posted to a particular spot, complete with a standard POS system set up to accept all manner of transactions.
The M-commerce part of things comes in when an individual elects to pay for their purchase or service using a mobile device. This is a scenario where a person taps the button on the side of their iPhone or Android and then lifts it to the credit card processor and keypad. The phone initiates a transaction as if it were a regular credit card, albeit with additional encryption and security measures.
This is basically the opposite of the scenario outlined above.
Mobile retailers are an increasingly common sight, but that doesn’t mean that all consumers are ready and willing to fully make the transition to mobile commerce. In such situations, it can be beneficial to accept traditional forms of payment.
A credit card input via keypad or by swiping or tapping is a good example of this. The consumer is still using the traditional means of payment, and the mobile retailer is easily able to accept the payment even though they themselves have gone mobile.
But it may not even be a credit card transaction. A food truck that accepts payment via cash as well as mobile would fall into this category, as would any retailer that’s willing to accept checks as a form of payment.
One area that’s traditionally been resistant to this kind of transaction, but has largely had to adapt as a result of the pandemic, is in the restaurant industry. It’s become increasingly common to see a waiter or waitress come around with a mobile device to initiate payment, and the customer can use a credit card to accept the charge and leave a tip.
This is also the type of retail transaction that occurs on e-commerce websites when the customer uses a desktop computer rather than a phone or app to conduct their business. Yes, it’s still all-digital, even if the individual is inputting their credit card information, but the lack of a mobile device categorizes it differently. All-digital does not necessarily mean all-mobile.
These scenarios are still forms of M-commerce, because the POS system and the business itself are being utilized on mobile devices. But they aren’t the true endform of m-commerce, which brings us to our final category.
M-commerce in its truest form is any transaction that occurs purely on mobile devices.
It’s what happens when a POS system is on a phone or tablet, and the customer uses their phone or tablet to execute payment. Typically, these transactions are much faster than any traditional transaction could ever be, as all it takes is a quick facial scan or 4-digit code, followed by a wave near the other device in order for the transaction to process.
The area of perhaps largest growth in the mobile-to-mobile M-commerce space is in transactions using apps like Venmo, Zelle, and others. Although this mostly began in the consumer-to-consumer space, with people paying each other for gifts, IOUs, and an endless array of other things, many businesses, small businesses especially, have gotten in on these apps too. It’s not uncommon to pay your landscaper, contractor, or any other provider of goods or services via Venmo. This would have been unheard of just a few years ago, and now it’s just as common, if not more so, than writing a check.
Another example of fully mobile transactions is any exchange of money that takes place on a mobile app. Rather than go to a website or a physical store, more and more people are moving those stores completely to their phones. Purchasing a product is as simple as opening the app and perusing a selection.
Some transactions even take place within app ecosystems that don’t seem inherently transactional by nature. Think about free-to-play games that utilize microtransactions, or subscription services that slyly nudge you to pay more for the next subscription tier.
All of these are forms of M-commerce, and this mobile-to-mobile market is the area set to experience the most explosive growth in the coming years.