I’ve had Discover’s Zip contactless sticker pasted to the back of my iPhone for a few years. Although I don’t run across very many places to use it in Seattle, I enjoy the user experience when it works. It’s not a huge time saver, but it’s easier to wave my phone than dig the right card out of my “analog wallet.” And it usually is interesting to the clerk, since “paying by phone” is still a novelty.
Whether Discover has benefited from issuing me a sticker is debatable. Stickers are issued only by request (at least on my account). Discover not only had to pay an extra $3 or $4 for the sticker (note 1), but also paid a customer service rep to answer the phone and take my request. Assuming they incurred an admin cost of $7 to $10 to process and mail the sticker would make the total cost to Discover $10 to $15. Therefore, my measly $300 in incremental spending hasn’t yet given them a positive return. But if more terminals were around, I’d have put thousands on it, and they’d be ecstatic.
The reason I’m writing about stickers again, is that my Moven card and sticker package arrived last week (see pictures below; previous post; note 2). And I thought how much more impressive the startup’s card mailer looked with the Moven sticker (and supporting mobile banking graphics) than the typical bank card mailer (Simple excluded, of course).
I know the extra $3 to $5 it would cost to toss a sticker into the card mailer is a huge expense. But I think the potential benefits makes it worth considering, at least for a portion of your customer base. (And if you add the sticker as part of a premium package, you might even convince customers to pay for it.)
Financial institution benefits:
- Increased POS transactions: Move your card to the top of wallet instantly when users are at a working, contactless terminal.
- Increased online transactions: If you print the card number, expiry date, and security code on the sticker, cardholders would turn to your card more often when arriving at check-out at ecommerce sites. It also would work for mobile commerce, although not as well since users would have to flip the phone around to read the numbers.
- Increased loyalty/referrals: Once that sticker is placed on a phone, it’s a constant reminder of your bank and card. It also makes it easy to show off to a friend.
- 1st gen mobile wallet: The sticker, combined with your mobile banking app and/or SMS alerts, provides a fairly solid “mobile wallet experience” to compete with Google and others.
- Seamless transition to NFC (or whatever): When the day arrives that the contactless capability is embedded in most handsets (yeah, Apple, we are looking at you), you simply tell customers to pull off the sticker and keep on waving that phone at the terminal.
- Competitive advantage: You differentiate yourself and earn referrals from a certain group of customers who are impressed with tech innovations.
Bottom line: Increasing costs with a contactless sticker is not for everyone. But if you are looking for a tangible point of differentiation that also builds your tech-cred, this is one possible solution. Moven, for one, is banking on it.
Moven outside envelope (13 July 2013)
Note: I know this is good for security reasons, but I was expecting something a little snazzier. Luckily, the inside card carrier was the best I’ve ever seen (see below).
Moven card carrier
Note: Sticker is on left, plastic on right
1. I’ve seen a wide range of prices quoted for contactless stickers, but I believe the relevant range for most issuers is $3 to $7 each, depending on quantity.
2. I can’t report on actual Moven account transactions because I haven’t verified the trial deposits. While this is a clever and relatively simple authentication technique, it does require users to log in to another bank account days later, so it is easy to neglect. Moven sent me a reminder two days after my application, but that was two weeks ago. Clearly, they will have to follow up with procrastinators like me again.
3. For more info on fee-based banking services, our Online Banking Report on fee-based online services (subscription, May 2011). For more info on the “near bank” or “meta bank” phenomena see our report on Truly Virtual Banks (subscription, Oct 2011).