Book Review: Designing Mobile Payment Experiences – Skip Allums

October 13th, 2014

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.

Two quick reminders

September 18th, 2014

Firstly, on Saturday (20th) it’s the ”Windows Apps JumpStart LIVE Series: Publish Hackathon”. More details and registration via http://aka.ms/winappspublishhack

Then, on Wednesday (24th) we’ll be hearing about Azure Mobile Services and Application Insights. If you haven’t heard of Application Insights before check out this article http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/developers/articles/week03sep14/improve-your-product-by-analysing-real-world-usage-data  More details and registration on Meetup - so we know how many are coming and can order food and drink accordingly (There’s NO NEED to register on both)

I hope to see you at one or both of the above.

Help to finish or improve your app

September 4th, 2014

At the May and June events, engineers from Microsoft’s Windows App Consult team attended.  These engineers work in Microsoft’s Global Business Support organisation providing assistance to Microsoft’s developer customers across the UK and Europe. The Windows App Consult team help developers ensure they have a quality application and can help with development issues, debugging, troubleshooting and reviewing apps. They can also highlight design issues and generally provide tips on how to improve applications.

Most of you said having a service like this would be useful so I’m working with Microsoft on the best way to secure us some resource and ensure the time is best utilised. Although useful to have an engineer at the event, we could probably make better use of time and provide more value to you by considering booking engineers for Remote App Consultation. This would mean that instead to getting 20-30 mins to discuss your application at the event, you can request a Remote App Consultation, which would give you individual time with an Engineer for up to 3 hours.  This time could be used more flexibly over phone and email to provide you with assistance.  Please note that depending on availability and the nature of your request it may take a few days to line somebody up to help you.

If you’ve got an app that’s almost finished or you need helping improving an app you’ve already released you can request a review by filling in the form at https://www.microsofttechupdate.co.uk/remote-app-consult-request/

Now we are 4! Thank you to all who’ve helped us get here

July 28th, 2014

Yes, 4 years ago today we held our first meeting. There have been 42 others since and number 44 will be on Wednesday.

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While I’ve done most of the organisation there are many, many people who’ve been instrumental in making it a success. Whether that was with speaking, finding venues or helping on the day.

Thanks to:

Alan, Ali, Andrew F, Andy W, Apurva, Arivind, Arlene, Ashraf, Ben P, Boryana, Brandon, Cain, Chris S, Colin E, Dan S, Dan U, Daniel, Dave C, Dave H, David T, David W, Dean E, Derrick, Dominique L, George B, Gergely, Gill C, Glenn E, Glynn J, Hermit D, Hosain, Ian G, Iris C, Jaime K, James M, the other James M, Jay B, Jeffrey, Jim C, Johan, John C, Jonathan S, Laith, Lawrence, Lewis, Louis, Mark, Mark R, Martin B, Martin W, Melville, Michael J, Michelle, Mike H, Mike O, Mike T, Neil, Neil R, Ollie, Pat L, Patrick S, Paul F, Paul H, Paul L, Paul M, Pete, Pete V, Phil W, Rafe, Riaz, Rich, Richard C, the other Richard C, Rob F, Rob L, Sam, Sandra S, Sara A, Sebastian W, Sergey, Simon J, Simon R, Stuart H, Stuart L, Sumith, Tolu, Tristan, Wesley and Will
And probably many others I’ve forgotten/missed-sorry. You’re all marvelous!

It just wouldn’t have been the same without you all.