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Tobias Puehse, vice president, Innovation Management, MasterCard Labs, Asia Pacific
in Asia Pacific by

Challenges of creating an ideal digital customer experience

“Digital payment is creating a lot of individual musical instruments but we need to build something that is orchestrated and can create beautiful music,” according to Tobias Puehse, vice president of innovation management, digital payments and labs, Asia Pacific at MasterCard.

Puehse is pushing for more growth and integration in Asia Pacific with digital payment, a crucial ingredient in delivering an enhanced customer experience. Ahead of his presentation at the fourth Customer Experience conference on 18-19 May at Suntec Singapore, Marketing Magazine met with Puehse to discuss the essential steps for this growth and working with the connected consumer.

It’s early days for mobile and digital payment he said, adding that “the ecosystem is still in the emerging stages of the technology.” But being “mobile-first” Puehse argued, gives Asia Pacific a head start over other traditional and browser-focused regions. Research supports this with smartphone adoption in Asia Pacific set to double from 1 billion unique users in 2014 to 2 billion in 2019 according to a Forrester report.

“The habit change is going to be a shorter path to purchase and it’s becoming a perfect storm for the emergence of new payment technologies and value-added user experiences,” said Puehse. “We will definitely see more technology changes in the next five years than we have in the last ten years.”

To increase customer adoption and improve the experience, Puehse said the challenge for companies is they must start working with technology that has complementary use cases. “It’s not enough to just use a lot of technology like wearable but they must be connected in a standardised way and make sense from a user-point of view.”

Puehse gave an example of how a fitness band enabling a customer not carrying their mobile phone or wallet after a run to pay for their drink at a convenience store solves a logical task. Another solution such as the Qkr! app MasterCard has developed allows customers to pay for meals at any time in the experience and split bills to save time. “Nobody is going to a restaurant to do a transaction, they need to enjoy their dining experience. By putting options into customers hands and personalisation opportunities the adoption becomes seamless because of the value.”

Puehse said, retailers and merchants must equip themselves with standardised contact-less terminals, which will speak to NFC (Near field Communications) enabled devices such as wearables.

Ultimately Puehse said: “If you don’t create incremental value you won’t drive adoption and acceptance.” It comes down to asking “what is the component of the value chain that doesn’t add value to the user” and removing it. He offered another example of reducing queues for public transport payment to enable urban mobility.

The other challenge, Puehse said is educating the customer about security. “Security is non-negotiable and trust is the key. What confuses customers is an untrusted and uneducated experience.”

“Today a lot is based on passwords and pin codes which is actually not as secure because the cognitive effort it takes to recall many passwords is only going to increase leading to repetition … we need to think of a world beyond passwords. Biometrics, big data and geo location are beginning to support this higher level of security.” This is because customers can be tracked at all stages of the journey and verified instantly he said. It includes solutions such as MasterCard’s Identity Check, which enables facial recognition to simplify the online shopping experience for customers.

Puehse said there is a lot of healthy competition in the Fintech startup space aimed at driving customer experience. However; success will come when technology providers including the big players such as Apple Pay and Android Pay focus on collaborating with retailers, banks and customers.“People have to come together, there is no choice and disruption is coming from the user experience standpoint” he said.

“My vision for digital payment in Asia Pacific is that we think beyond form and become a leading region in terms of wearables, ‘the internet of things’ and digital devices.”

He argued it’s a careful balancing act to deliver this integrated and orchestrated music customers are looking for. “We need to move into the next level of the user experience and create a frictionless yet secure environment.”

Join Puehse and other experts who will share more on innovating customer experience, loyalty and engaging the new-age customer at the Customer Experience conference on 18-19 May at Suntec Singapore.

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