Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Review: Designing Mobile Payment Experiences - Skip Allums

Cross-posted from http://windowsapps.london/2014/10/13/book-review-designing-mobile-payment-experiences-skip-allums/

Back in the late nineties I worked on a system that produced store gift cards/vouchers. Fast forward to 2008-9 and I was working on mobile payments, NFC payments, stored value cards on mobiles and even custom software for chip and pin terminals. More recently I've worked with a number of banks and money transfer services to build them mobile apps. (There are more than a couple of screenshots in the book that look VERY familiar!)
All in all it's fair to say I have an interest and background in working with mobile payment solutions.
When I first heard about this book I became very interested. Mobile payment and money transfer is an area which I expect to grow considerably in the next few years and the recent announcements by Apple, with the iPhone 6, will only help fuel interest in this area and speed up growth.




The book is relatively short at just 7 chapters and a little over 200 pages but it's packed with useful information.

The first chapter starts the book by providing some background on the history of money and how and why it is used. It provides the perfect grounding for the rest of the book.

The second chapter introduces the three payment types covered in the book: NFC; Cloud : and Closed loop. The description of each of these is intermingled with a few UX notes dotted about. I think it would have been nicer to have made the UX points stand out more. As I am familiar with the payment options and their pros and cons I would have liked to see the UX tips stand out more form the text so I didn't risk skipping over them as I skimmed a paragraph about a subject I am already familiar with.

The third chapter is the first to provide some easy take-aways for the reader. It analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the design, payments, feedback and security aspects of popular mobile payment solutions available today in the US. Namely Google Wallet, ISIS, PayPal, LevelUp, Starbucks and GoWallet.

The fourth chapter is about building trust into mobile payments. It was while reading this chapter that I realized I had been reading this book with my "developers hat" on, rather than one of a designer. I think of myself as a developer who wants to understand design. I also hope that more developers take an interest in design and how it impacts what they are developing. Anyway, this chapter diverged from what I was expecting and had a strong focus on the psychology of the consumer (or person using the app). I found it really useful to have this focus and the idea of designing for the most common security concerns people have with mobile payments was explored in depth in the rest of the chapter.

The fifth chapter is about actually designing successful payment interactions. The chapter is full of useful advice if creating an interaction using NFC, Bar or QR codes, or geolocation. It even made me smile as I remembered back to building an app that displayed barcodes on an iPhone and testing it in actual supermarkets. I'm sure with the information from this chapter I could revisit many past applications and create improvements. My only criticism would be that it would be nice to touch upon iBeacons or similar when also focusing on geolocation as that would, I suspect, address some of the issues of a geolocation approach. (e.g. getting the wrong neighboring store.)

Chapter six feels somewhat of a mish-mash of topics. This is probably due to the nature of the chapter being about additional services that can be provided with a payment experience to bring a richer and more valuable user engagement. Depending on the original app or services purpose is will affect what additional services are appropriate. This chapter provides guidance on: managing finances; rewarding loyalty; offers and coupons; and travel.

The final chapter looks to the future. As Apple has such an influence in the mobile space (especially in the US - the market this book focuses on) it is right that there is talk about what Apple may do. (This includes consideration for iBeacons-as noted earlier.) Then there's speculation on what may come from MCX (the Merchant Customer Exchange) and Facebook. The chapter concludes with a look at wearable devices and bio-metrics and how they may be part of payment experiences in the future. As it's still early days for these technologies the book provides no specific guidance in using them though.


All in all a useful book. If you are, or are likely to be working with mobile payment with regard to mobile devices and apps then I recommend you buy and read this book.


There is also a website by the author that contains additional content (via a blog) and a collection of mobile wallet & payment UI design patterns: http://mobilepaymentux.com/



Disclaimer: The copy of this book was supplied for review as part of the O'Reilly User Group/Community program.


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