The Uber convenience of everything
Love them or loath them, Uber has done one thing, it has shown that it understands that convenience is not just about saving physical effort and time, but about saving mental time and effort. This is the emerging disruption category of 'convenience tech' and the Uberfication of everything.
If you haven’t used Uber, give it a go. When I used it first I pressed a single call button. To my surprise, a cab turned up in 30 seconds, asked for me by name, knew where I was going (I had input my home address previously), we drove and he dropped me off. No cash, cards, swipers, stressing over tips, receipts or anything traditional related to making the payment happened.
Buy time and save effort
It’s an experience that provides a clear indication that the new world of payments isn't really about payments any more, thus lowering the obstacles to consumer transactions. We have limited time and effort to give and neither should be wasted. What we really want is convenience. And there are plenty of commercial interactions we have to make that we wouldn't mind being Uberfied.
A revolution on our hands
This may on the surface seem trivial, but seamless data-driven personalised transactions would truly revolutionise industries. Let’s just take the possible impact on the automotive industry. Firstly, how hard is it to buy a car? There’s a whole process: building up the need; the research required to decide on a brand; the visit somewhere to buy and/or exchange, as well as the work needed on finance. You also have to consider the post purchase dissonance - not to mention the ownership, tax and insurance transfer hassles. It’s a broken expensive model.
But what if cars were something you could rent on impulse just for a moment, rather than a day or a week? Some will claim that ZipCar already does this, but I’m talking about immediate rental, driven by personalised data and consumer demand. ZipCar is a glorified rental model in this light. You pay an annual membership fee - in London the hourly rate seems to be £7 or about £60 for the day (more expensive than rentals) - and generally some thought is required. What I would like is a service that offers a range of options to suit my changing needs: a commuting model during the week, a family wagon at the weekend or a convertible on a sunny day. I may even opt for a car-share. What’s stopping this from happening? Nothing really other than the payment.
Car ownership goes to the scrap heap?
A phone, a wrist watch or a chip that identifies you and your payment details is all you need. In an instant, time, place, start and destination points, exact running costs, insurance premiums, tax etc., can be calculated and charged. Car ownership would be a thing of the past and a lot cheaper as multiple handling costs are removed. More importantly, the onus would also force car manufacturers who essentially all make the same type of car to start offering a truly different and innovative experience, like self-drive, or whatever is next.
Tap your device. Get service.
Apply Uberfication to retail and you take the idea of self-service to its next level. People would simply walk into shops, be scanned at the door, try things on, take things and walk out. No cards, swipers, receipts or vulgar talk of money. Here the emphasis would shift to customer service and engendering trust. Trust that you are paying a fair price for that product or service, as failure to do so will simply mean an alert before you decide to purchase. Payment options could be included into some of the millions of wearable tech devices that are being predicted for sale in 2015 (21 Million sold in 2014 according to the IDC).
What about the banks in this brave new world?
There's a question here about the role of financial institutions in the future world of self-service. I’m not entirely sure, but they will have to pick up their game and find new ways to be top of wallet and differentiate the customer experience to avoid further cuts to revenue, and ultimately a steep decline in brand recognition.
Find out about our work with financial services brands here