Sequent announced yesterday that we have received a US patent for a key feature of mobile payments: “one tap” mobile payments. If you don’t know what it is, “one tap” or “single tap” functionality allows mobile wallets to transmit multiple cards — such as payment, loyalty, coupons, and offers — at the same time to a merchant’s point of sale (POS) system.
This is arguably one of the most important patents in mobile payments, comparable to “one click” checkout that Amazon patented more than a decade ago for online commerce. Why do I say that?
If mobile payments are to become mainstream for physical world payments, they need to be as quick and secure as the checkout process that we have today. They also need to be more convenient and add real value for the consumer. The last time I checked the plastic cards in my wallet worked very well everywhere I went. Payments is not a broken process.
However, during the checkout process, when I go to pull out my loyalty card and redeem my coupons, I can almost feel the irritated looks from shoppers in the line behind me. Streamlining the process of entering paper-based coupons and loyalty cards at the checkout is the biggest single challenge to improve a consumer’s checkout experience at merchants today.
If we are to get consumers to shift from what they know and what “isn’t broken”, then there needs to be something more in it to compel the switch to using the mobile phone. Mobile payments can streamline the checkout process by allowing consumers to transmit all coupon, loyalty and payment data at the same time. If consumers with near field communication (NFC)-enabled mobile wallets need to tap twice, three times to transmit all accounts, mobile payments may actually slow down the checkout process and make it less, not more seamless for consumers. As Denee Carrington, a senior analyst at Forrester Research put it in a Payments Source article: “Sequent’s patent could streamline and enrich the checkout experience for consumers and merchants via mobile payments.”
At Sequent we have a major focus on user experience. We think about the consumer experience first and go back to the technology as a means to enable it. We like to apply for patents for solutions that will advance a simple and elegant consumer experience. We like to say that we are patenting “simplicity.”
But most of all, we want to make our technology and patents available to the largest number of apps and entities. Another patent we got this summer, for technology that turns apps into wallets, does just that. It makes it simple for app developers to add payment functionality like “one tap” to existing mobile apps.
Banks also need simplicity. They need the ability to deploy mobile payments across multiple networks, distribute their cards in multiple geographies to multiple phone types, and to use multiple transactions technologies. And again Sequent does that via host card emulation (HCE) and our App Enablement Platform.
Bottom line, for mobile payments to become mainstream, simplicity should be a part of everyone’s experience; app developers, merchants, card issuers and especially consumers. Simplicity, of course, that is based on ironclad security. That’s the philosophy driving Sequent innovation.