Australians have enthusiastically embraced the internet as a tool for shopping, doing business and staying in touch with one another.
National Australia Bank has reported that Australians spent roughly $19.3 billion online in the past year – an increase from the $16.6 billion since January 2015. Just as significantly, there has also been an increase in the use of smartphones for online shopping. Noting a downward trend in computer sales, Wired predicted in January 2015 that it would take only two years for smartphone users to outnumber PCs for internet browsing. Australian businesses have been quick to start capitalising on the ability of consumers to pay for products using in-app payments.
Here are a few examples:
Hey You, the result of a merger between online shopping and loyalty companies Posse and Beat the Q in October 2014, is a mobile app startup that wants to do more than help people beat queues. Focussing on building relationships between customers and local cafes and restaurants, the app can be used to order table service and drinks from the venue itself. The in-app payment process allows you to link your credit card or PayPal account details for payment per order, or you can use those facilities to top up and pay from your Hey You account. An added benefit is that the service staff are also given your name, adding a personal element that modern technology is too often accused of neglecting, or even undermining.
In early 2013, friends Robert Crocitti and Michael Nuciforo founded Parkhound, an online marketplace for car parking spaces, after struggling to find parking for a football game. By connecting drivers to people with parking to spare, Parkhound monetizes space in the way Uber monetizes spare time. With 3000 private parking spaces in its database, it’s popularity has quickly grown among frustrated Australian drivers. By allowing users to make money from a space that would otherwise go unused, it offers an excellent example of how the flexibility of in-app transactions can create new business opportunities. When making a booking, you are required to enter your payment card and billing address details. You are required to pay the full amount up front for short-term bookings, or you can enter into a monthly payment plan (or pay upfront) for long-term bookings.
Business owners and employees may not realise that they cannot use subscription services like Spotify to play background music. StorePlay, developed by Melbourne-based entrepreneur and DJ Dean Cherny, removes that hassle by providing playlists that are perfectly legal to play on commercial premises. The in-app payment facility stores your credit card details and covers royalties and, if necessary, the service will also manage APRA and PPCA fees. Offering peace-of-mind as well as convenience, storePlay has utilized in-app payments to fill a gap in the market.
These businesses owe a great deal of success to the innovation-promoting flexibility of app technology. But it’s not just your internet age tech start-up that can capitalise on advantages conferred by in-app payments.
Mobile payment programs are relatively inexpensive and require little infrastructure. This means small businesses that may have previously been unable to accept cash payments can take advantage of them. Crucially, it also gives businesses easier access to information about their customers.
Instead of undermining traditional retail, in-app payment technology could very well help.
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