Monday, 31 March 2014

Five Payment Predictions for 2014 (

Analyst Insight by Michelle Evans - Senior Consumer Finance Analyst - 

Michelle Evans

Prediction 1: The Convergence of Loyalty with Mobile Payments
Mobile wallets have failed to take off in the marketplace due to a combination of factors, including consumer fears around privacy and security, an uninformed consumer base, an absence of the needed infrastructure and the convenience of already established payment methods. In order to encourage wider adoption and ensure high usage, mobile payment players will have to provide a value add, which could come in many forms, including monetary savings, improved security, ease of use or increased loyalty. Of all these potential benefits, mobile-driven loyalty may be the greatest factor with the potential to drive consumer adoption of mobile payments. 
Although still very much in the early days, the integration of mobile wallets with value-added services has become almost a prerequisite for the success of any mobile payment app. One of the more successful mobile wallets to date comes from the coffeehouse giant, Starbucks Corp., which integrates its popular rewards program with its prefunded QR-code based mobile app. Another real-world example of a loyalty-led mobile payment app is the telecom-led mobile platform Isis. Although still in the early days of nationwide deployment in the US, early results have shown greater adoption for those that signed up for the attached loyalty programmes. The future consumer adoption of mobile payments will be directly related to the type value add that consumers receive from using their mobile phone. It is likely that the payments industry will see more of these loyalty-driven mobile apps in the near future. In fact, it is likely that over the course of the next year that no conversation around mobile payments will be complete without a mention of the role of loyalty.
It’s important to note that the definition of loyalty is evolving and in the future loyalty will be about than just more points and miles. Moving forward, loyalty driven mobile payment initiatives will be about one-to-one customer engagement and the individual consumer experience that today's shoppers want and expect. Mobile devices will be central to the mission of providing a highly individualized consumer experience because such devices are able to determine the context and relevancy that will drive a more gratifying consumer experience. Ultimately, mobile payments will be as much about the exchange of payments as it is the consumer relationship around the payment transaction.

Prediction 2: Banks will Add Payment Functionality to Mobile Apps

Many banks offer mobile banking apps that feature a range of basic services, including the ability to check balances, view transactional history and transfer money between accounts. Consumers have shown a definite willingness to use mobile functionality to execute certain financial tasks when the app has proven to be easy to use and add value to their life. It’s likely that within the next year that banks will begin to incorporate payments within these mobile apps, too.
There are already a couple of examples of where this concept is in the works. The Commonweath Bank — one the big four Australian banks — recently announced such an update to its m-banking app that will give customers the ability to make proximity payments using their mobile phone. In early 2014, five major UK financial institutions committed to embedding the Zapp mobile payments technology within their mobile banking apps. Zapp will enable the 18 million consumers at HSBC, First Direct, Nationwide, Santander and Metro Bank to make in-store and online purchases all from within their mobile banking apps.
A single bank-branded mobile banking and payment app makes a lot of sense because consumers already extensively use the apps to execute transactions so payments are a natural next step. In addition, these mobile apps also will cement a consumer’s relationship with a specific retail bank brand by increasing the consumer’s usage across all of the bank’s products and thus making it less desirable for a consumer to switch between retail bank brands. Bank-branded mobile banking and payment apps likely will become a popular offering by the world’s largest financial institutions in the near term. Perhaps, the bigger win for the mobile wallet war is that these mobile banking apps have conditioned consumers to trust their mobile phone with parts of their financial life.

Prediction 3: Continued Evolution of the POS Terminal

The payments industry is entering a new frontier at the POS terminal. There is a myriad of choices for consumers and retailers alike with NFC-enabled mobile wallets and others in which the payment is executed by QR codes, Bluetooth Low Energy or even sound waves. There are wallets from traditional payment providers and other options from payment entrants. In addition, there are also mobile POS devices that are enabling one-man shops or small businesses to accept card payments for the first time without having to establish a merchant account through traditional card networks. However, one of the biggest developments in this space has been the advent of cloud computing.
Slowly the payments industry is shifting from the clunky cash registers from yesteryear to a more streamlined approach that likely involves a tablet operating on a cloud-based platform. The arrival of cloud computing gave birth to the possibility of a POS system that could be deployed and accessed directly from the internet using any internet browser. Cloud-based POS systems are different from traditional POS systems, largely because user’s data, including sales and inventory numbers, are not stored locally, but in a remote server. Retailers no longer had to go to specific POS terminal at a specific store to access information from that device. Cloud-based POS also opened the door to a full POS system on mobile devices, including mobile phones and tablets.
That being said, the retail industry is in the very early stages of moving to the cloud. It has not yet happened because of the long lifecycle of the Windows-based POS systems. However, this transition will be sped up by a looming April deadline when Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP, which has been the most popular operating system in the last 12 years. As a result, any POS terminals using Windows XP will be out of PCI compliance, which means the retailer will have to upgrade to a new Windows operating system or migrate to another operating system, which will likely be tied to the cloud. This deadline will open the door for competing systems, including the numerous aspiring cloud-based software providers that have recently entered the market.

Prediction 4: Consumers More Open to Credit Cards Again

The recovery of the global economy following the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 has caused some consumers to shift their payment habits. While some consumers remain thrifty and cautious with their spending, others that have continued to see their disposable income grow have become more comfortable with once again relying on credit cards to help manage their big-ticket purchases and even month-to-month spending. Credit cards, which were the leading card payment type globally dating back to the industry’s birth in 1950, was overtaken by debit cards in 2010 as consumers became increasingly aware of their debt obligations, and thus debit cards became an attractive means to manage expenses.
This gradual loosening of the wallets has led to the normalization of debit card spend as credit regains some of its former momentum. Debit card transactions will continue to outpace credit globally in terms of both overall spend and growth in 2014, but consumers are expected to increase spend on credit cards in 2014 as compared with the most recent years. The growth of credit card transactions in constant terms will jump from 6.1% in 2013 versus 7.4% in 2014. Meanwhile, the growth of debit card transaction volume is expected to remain steady in 2014 at 8.7% and drop from there through at least 2018 when Euromonitor projects a year-over-year growth rate of 5.7%. The bump in credit card transactions in 2014 will be driven by a rise of average discretionary incomes and consumers settling back into their old habits and changing perceptions of credit cards.

Prediction 5: Move to Open-Fare Transit Systems will Boost Pre-Paid Category

The modernization of the transportation systems and the implementation of a pre-paid card-based ticketing system have boosted the pre-paid category in many markets. Transportation cards, which are the second largest portfolio of closed loop pre-paid cards, are expected to continue to add significant volume as more transit systems exit the payments business altogether and adopt an open loop system. These so-called open-fare payment systems are part of a larger trend in which transit agencies are moving beyond costly, proprietary magnetic-stripe fare tickets or even the older tokens or cash.
In an effort to reduce labour costs and reduce the agency’s role in managing fare operations, transit systems are partnering with payment processors and banks to collect the fares. Public transit systems are partnering with international schemes to convert the traditional closed-loop payment system to an open-loop networks to not only improve the consumer offering, but also to establish a new revenue stream. In addition, open-fare transit makes it easier for agencies to work with each other since Visa, MasterCard and American Express are automatically interoperable with other systems.
One such open-fare system launched in Chicago this autumn. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) awarded a 12-year contract to Cubic Transportation Systems to upgrade its Chicago Card system from a closed-loop system to an open-fare collection system based on contactless and NFC standards. The new system dubbed Ventra features two new ways to pay fares. Riders can use a closed-loop prepaid contactless Ventra fare card, which also carries a MasterCard logo that means it could be used for open-loop retail payments, if users activate the optional account. Secondly, users can tap to pay with their open-loop contactless credit or debit bank cards. There are similar systems globally, including the E-Z Link M1 Pre-paid MasterCard in Singapore, MasterCard Muvo in Duban, South Africa and the Citibank Municipal Card in Warsaw and Wroclaw, Poland.

5 Promising Companies that are Doing Native Mobile Advertising Right (

Native advertising has been quite the buzzword at digital marketing conferences and trade shows since last 2 years and more so in the context of mobile. So much that it is sometimes referred to as the ‘Sleeping giant’ at most conferences!

So what really is native advertising and why does mobile need it more than ever?

Native advertising is any message thats a regular ad but gels incredibly well with the context and content around it. If you are a Facebook user you definitely see them everyday and possibly already have an opinion about whether you like them or not! The idea is to engage the ‘Banner blind’ user in the best way possible. The powerful point here is that the user experience and design is largely defined by the publisher and not by the advertiser (So yes thats a reason Native might kick banner’s butt!)

Types of Natives ads on Mobile

Broadly natives ads come under one of the following categories

  • Instream Ads: With more properties switching to a live stream content style, native messages plugged within streams such as those on Facebook and Twitter is gaining traction.

  • Activity Triggered Ads: These formats gel well with ‘Events’ within the app/site. A good example is a reward or offer for completing a round of a particular game.

  • Branded Conent: While adver-games have been there for a long time, more content oriented sites are finding innovative ways to plugin branded messages within their apps/sites. This works very well if the positioning of the brand and the mobile property go well together. Lets say adventure app branded in Red Bull skin could work well for the brand.

  • Mobile Only: Formats that work better on mobile like Click-to-call

The Facebooks and Twitters aside, there is a new breed of companies solely focused on Native Advertising. Here is a list of the top guns among them


Triplelift focuses on image driven properties with a strong social spin. Formats that look beautiful on Pinterest and other visual blogs with clear disclaimer calling them ‘sponsored’ is refreshing for the user, at the same time could get some positive brownie points for the brands. The reason I love Triplelift is because of their emphasis on aesthetics and shareablity – which is a fantastic balance between the user and the sale proposition.

Nativex Logo

Nativex has a strong emphasis on helping gamers monetize through native content. These are interstitial ads with the same look and feel as the game itself presented between ‘Events’/breaks within the games. Natives also stands way ahead in using intelligent server side algorithm to estimate interests of the user – which as the company claims affects ROI for advertisers. Also they get additional brownie points from me for being self serve!


Nativo focuses on multi-device scalability by being easily enabling advertisers to implement cross-device campaigns quickly. The target properties are visual blogs, in-stream placements and content rich infotainment properties  – all promising plenty of opportunities for advertisers to put the messages across.

Avo Carrot

Avocarrot is a mobile only network and has a good spread of balance between reward based ads, app install and high engaging HD video format – all in the native format. They promise quick integration for publishers and real time reporting. Many of their features including in-stream ads are still in private-beta, so they truly fit into the underdogs I want to highlight in this post!


Apart from the fact that Brian Wong is one of  the youngest tech leaders to get funded more than $15 Million while building Kiip, the platform is fantastic for mobile gaming, utility and entertainment properties alike. Kiip focuses on reward based messages within apps/sites during what they call ‘moments’. They recently launched a selfserve platform and have been previously featured on MobRulers.

Will finally advertisers and developers find a way to focus only on native messages on mobile and kick out the banners, only time will tell.

Friday, 28 March 2014

GDC 2014: Wooga on using the FUUU factor to hit the top of the App Store (

GDC 2014: Wooga on using the FUUU factor to hit the top of the App Store
Wooga's Florian Steinhoff opened his talk at GDC 2014 in San Francisco on the performance of Jelly Splash with five simple words: "Hate is a powerful emotion."

While many of us think to avoid engendering hatred with our games, Steinhoff recommends that hate should actively be embraced.

"If someone hates your game, they feel passionately about it, and so they maybe love it a little bit too," he detailed.

With this counterintuitive philosophy laid out, Steinhoff went on to give a list of best practices on how you can turn frustration into a driving force of player engagement and retention.

Get spiky

When Steinhoff laid out the difficulty curve of Jelly Splash, he showed a collection of difficulty models Wooga tried but ultimately found unworkable.

This collection boasted the standard 45 degree incline, an exponential "hockey stick", and a curvy variant on both. In the end, Wooga opted for a spiky line with multiple sharp peaks and valleys.

The spikes represent Blocking Levels or - as Steinhoff described them - "crazy difficult levels" which are used to slow players down. Unfortunately, these levels engender a lose rate of "up to 95 percent".

To compensate for these, Wooga sprinkled in Relief Levels - the valleys - which allow players to recover from Blocking Levels and amps up their confidence to try again.

The third level type essential to Jelly Splash's success is the Build Up level, which are increasingly difficult stages on the slopes leading up to the spikes.

Jelly Splash

Steinhoff stressed, however, that developers shouldn't save spikes - Blocking Levels - until late in the game. In fact, he advocated confronting a player with one in the first play session to reinforce them with a loss.

"Players need to lose, and lose early on - otherwise they'll think it's a game for kids and will put it down and never play again."

FUUU Factor

The key to building frustration with Blocking Levels is to aim the right FUUU factor, named after the now-infamous Rage Guy meme.

FUUU factor, as Steinhoff explained it, is best described in a simple athematic equation:

  # of tries until won / # of times you almost won a level.

Put another way: the more frustratingly close calls, the lower the FUUU factor - and a lower FUUU factor leads to a more motivated, enraged, and engaged player.

For example, if a player needs 100 tries before they clear a level and they only have five near-wins, the level has a FUUU factor of 20. If a player attacks the same level and has 25 near-wins, it has a FUUU factor of 4.

That level will be viewed as more frustrating, sure, but that frustration is sticky.

"Don't be afraid to frustrate the players, listen to the data, and ignore the whining," Steinhoff concluded, before pointing out that you should toss out all levels with a FUUU Factor greater than 10.

Lucky me, lucky you

Another key point Steinhoff addressed was the role of luck in games.

Luck allows players to blame a game for a loss, and increases the chances that they'll continue plugging away at a difficult level. Conversely, players will like the dopamine rush of "feeling lucky" when they clear a tough level.

But designers should love luck, too, since it can simultaneously speed up poor players - allowing them to clear levels well beyond their skill level - and slow down power players by forcing undesirable boards on them.

Overall, Steinhoff notes that "luck broadens the user funnel and keeps more players in your game,"

But the catch with luck in puzzle games is that players want to believe it's their skill, and not luck, that helped them clear a challenge.

As such, they're prepared to a game that's "about 50 percent luck" - but Steinhoff noted that you, as a developer, want a game with "about 70 percent luck" for the balancing of exceptionally adept or struggling players.

The key to reconciling this 20 percentage point gap lies in "deceit skill" - moments where players feel they have more skill in a game than they ultimately do.

F* yeah

The final recommendation Steinhoff gave in the process of crafting a frustration-driven puzzle game is to sprinkle in "Fuck Yeah moments" - or, F* Yeah moments

These moments of pure, unadulterated bliss happen when everything falls in a player's favour and they skate through a challenging level when all looks lost.

Using an extreme example in Bejeweled where a concatenation of combos led to a victory in a lost cause level, Steinhoff said the feeling a player walks away with at the end can only be described with the following meme.

Steinhoff noted that these F* Yeah moments provide a ray of hope for players in difficult times, and hope is an extremely powerful motivator for player engagement and retention - perhaps equal to frustration.

In order to make sure players respond properly to F* Yeah moments, however, Steinhoff recommended tossing them at the player early.

This allows them to become aware of the existence of F* Yeah moments as they're getting invested in a game and thus creates a hope for their reappearance in later, more frustrating levels.

As an added bonus, Steinhoff pointed out that these F* Yeah moments are eminently sharable - players will want to tell others about their amazing ccomplishments, which aides in game discovery.

Three principles of Frustration

While forging a game with frustration as the main motivator is a tricky prospect, the end results are inarguable if it's implemented properly.

In order to make sure a game's injected with the proper levels of frustration, Steinhoff recommended that developers follow three simple rules to help players hate - and thus love - a game.

"Make it difficult, keep it casual, and use more luck

How To Find Early Beta Users For Your App (

Are you looking for beta testers to help you facilitate the initial features of your mobile app?
Do you need to find early users to test and find bugs?
Finding beta users who can provide critical feedback is one step to ensure your app is ready for the masses. And while your friends and family are a great place to start, they may not tech-savvy or be in your target market.
In this post, you will discover how a few of the top apps found their early beta users and how you can do the same.

#1: Reddit

Beta users on Reddit
While you may know Reddit as the website for funny animated gifs and viral videos, did you know that there is a sub-Reddit community of game developers?
In fact, within the gamedev sub-Reddit, there is a thread called Screenshot Saturday where every Saturday you can post links to screenshots of games that you are working on.
It’s a great way to get feedback from the Reddit community and drive early interest in your app.
We put our new Word Hack app within the thread and got a few emails just from that one post.
Ninja Tip: Before posting a link of your screenshot to Reddit, first share it on Twitter and then post the Twitter status link to Reddit. It’s an easy way to pick up a few Twitter followers.
Twitter status
Another app that made a great use of Reddit to find beta testers is the Fairshare app, that got their first 1000 users that way.

#2: PreApps

Find beta users with Pre Apps
PreApps coins itself as “your personal preview into the world of mobile apps!”.
PreApps (that just launched its v2) connects eager mobile app users with mobile app developers in hopes of creating a better quality, more successful apps. By implementing user feedback in the development process, apps have a greater chance of success, and users a more enjoyable experience.
It is completely free to post your app on the site, but you can also pay to be a part of the Featured Apps section of the PreApps homepage.
Interested users can vote up your app, be notified when it’s been released, and sign up to become a beta tester of the app. PreApps will feature apps with the highest votes on its homepage.
Craneballs Studios, makers of the popular app Overkill 2, says PreApps played a role in their successful launch which reached over 250,000 downloads day of launch.

#3: Craigslist

Beta users with Craigslist
Need a new couch or looking to sell your old phone, then you should definitely use Craigslist. However, did you know that Craigslist can also be a great source for beta users?
In fact, Level CEO Jake Fuentes said in his interview on Mobile App Chat that he put an ad up on Craigslist promoting a pizza and app party where those who were interested who get free pizza in exchange for feedback on the app.
Not only did he receive some great insight into the key features of the app, but it also allowed him to validate some of the problems he was hoping to solve with the app.
The company has raised $5 million Series A funding and has been covered the NYTimes, Techcrunch, CNN, and other major publications.

#4: Elance / oDesk

Find beta users on Elance
While many of us in the app business are aware that we can find developers on Elance, many of us are NOT aware that we can also find beta testers on the website as well.
Elance has affordable testers who can help you refine the early versions of your app. You can ask them to answer a series of questions, find bugs, or make suggestions on user experience (UX).
While I’m hesitant to completely rely on Elance for UX feedback, it is a great resource for affordable bug testing.
Rather than posting a job, you may consider doing a quick search for “iPhone beta testers” and sifting through the results for those with experience and high average ratings.

#5: UserTesting

User Testing
UserTesting lets you “look over the shoulder” of people in your target audience while they use your mobile app. For $49, you can get a video of a real user testing your mobile site or app in about 1 hour.
Here’s how it works:
  1. You select testers and devices within your target audience specifying gender, age, device, and operating system.
  2. Create a series of tasks users should perform (including installing apps) & follow up with questions they should answer.
  3. A tester speaks her thoughts while a high-resolution webcam captures her entire experience.
  4. Watch, edit, annotate, make clips, and share your videos with your team.
Evernote used UserTesting to understand customer interaction across multiple platforms, improve functionality to increase engagement, and streamline the sign up process.
“On a slow Friday night, I have been able to push a build to UserTesting and receive quality tester videos in 20 minutes,” said Philip Constantinou, VP of Product for Evernote. “It’s addictive to find out almost immediately what people think.”
By using UserTesting, Evernote saw a 15% increase in user retention and dramatic increase in user engagement.


To create a successful mobile app, it is NEVER too early to start marketing and finding early beta testers will help you not only refine your features, but also help you with your sales pitch.
Features that you may have thrown away may end up being your unique selling point. Using the websites above, you will be able to find the beta testers and early users who will kickstart the traction for your app.