This summer, the Hungarian Mobile Wallet Association celebrated the first anniversary of its foundation. Diplomacy & Trade talked to a member of the Board, Norbert Hovanyecz (the managing director of SuperShop Ltd.) about the technology used and the plans for the future.
Norbert Hovanyecz: In today's world, mobility is a necessity – be it any area in our lives or even us, from the viewpoint of our company, our work. Accordingly, we select the tools that are used every day, and thus, manufacturers and service providers make developments in this direction regarding tools/accessories where it is feasible. In case of a loyalty program, it's an innovation based on consumer demand, whereby – taking advantage of the opportunities offered by NFC – the identification transmitter is placed in the mobile phone. In case of SuperShop, this is already the third level of the evolution, as we started with the basic chip card, we currently use – in the case of ERSTE-SuperShop co-branded cards - the contactless payment function and all this will now be ‘planted’ in a mobile telephone.
Diplomacy & Trade:What is the direction of development, is the financial system going to be more complicated or simpler with the introduction of the mobile wallet?
Norbert Hovanyecz: The innovation process is never an end in itself. The service providers, retailers meet consumer demand. If we can contribute to the consumer’s more comfortable lifestyle - and thereby, win over or keep that customer –, there is no question: we develop!
Diplomacy & Trade:How do payment customs and related financial transactions change with the mobile wallet?
Norbert Hovanyecz: For the children of the 21st century, being ‘always online’ is a natural lifestyle. Everything must be available all the time in the most comfortable way. One of these ways is when we make it even easier to use cash, bank cards, loyalty cards or coupons by integrating them into your mobile phone. The mobile phone is always with us, so, the ‘always online’, ‘always available’ is there.
Diplomacy & Trade:Would customers really replace cash and plastic cards with a mobile phone?
Norbert Hovanyecz: Obviously, not right away. In the area of debit cards and Internet banking at home, we still see continuous lines at post offices with people lining up to pay their bills but I am confident that we can gradually gain ground.
Diplomacy & Trade:What is the current situation on the market? How prepared are the merchants to introduce the NFC? And consumers?
Norbert Hovanyecz: For the merchants, the change in payment methods causes no difficulty. Among the SuperShop partners, cash registers within the SPAR Group are already prepared for this payment solution, are the OBI stores and Burger King restaurants. Consumers are no longer new to the contactless card allowing payment, nor a mobile phone settling the parking fee. I believe that these help accept the new methods of payment.
Diplomacy & Trade:Can mobile wallets indeed assume the role of mobile phones? What other features can the mobile wallet have?
Norbert Hovanyecz: I strongly believe it! Can the smartphone take over the role of digital camera, the alarm clock, the GPS? Yes, yes, yes!
Diplomacy & Trade:Do customers really want this? What about the dealer side? Don’t they consider this innovation as a forced one?
Norbert Hovanyecz: Customers need comfortable and safe solutions. According to a 2012 survey conducted by TNS Mobile Life, in Hungary, 32% of the respondents would like to see and use the mobile wallet.
Diplomacy & Trade:What are the benefits of the mobile wallet for retailers and their customers?
Norbert Hovanyecz: On the dealer's side, it is important to emphasize that a mobile device is, the same time, an online device, therefore, it can be treated as a potential media for future (present) marketing purposes.
Diplomacy & Trade:Why does not SuperShop insist on the plastic card? Where are you in this business?
Norbert Hovanyecz: For us, it is the client, the SuperShop cardholder, the customer of our partners that is important. Whether the benefits of this loyalty program are enjoyed by the consumer through a plastic or a virtual card, it is of much less important consideration. So far, many companies have issued a card so that the consumer can keep their brand in that purse. But what happens if your wallet is not of leather, but is called mobile wallet? We'll be there!
Diplomacy & Trade:What role does SuperShop player in the Wallet Shop Association's work and in the future introduction of a wallet?
Norbert Hovanyecz: As Hungary's leading multi-brand loyalty program, SuperShop is committed to continuous improvement. We provide benefits to millions of customers in different commercial sectors. We were the first, in 2011, to issue loyalty card of contactless technology. Since the market researches and trend analyses also show that there is and will be customer need for the use of the mobile phone for this purpose, it is natural that we want to be among the first to provide this opportunity for the more than 2.2 million cardholders of our system.
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