In the payment industry, we are constantly inundated by commentary on the promise of the mobile phone. While mobile payment certainly offers great potential, at this point, these words seem to travel faster and further than actual penetration and usage. Yes, mobile presents an enhanced payment plus experience for the user. But, it may also leave a host of unintended consequences in its wake. Many in the industry may not find these unintended consequences meaningful or worthy of strategy shifts. However, I find value in exploring one of these consequences — the negative impact on brand.
By brand, I am referring to a specific case of erosion that may result due to the shift from holding a plastic card in one’s hand to interacting with a mobile app. No company would feel the dip in this area more than American Express. For years, American Express maintained a unique position in terms of what it meant to occupy one’s wallet. When an individual became a Card Member, the card certified that they made it or so they may have thought. Possession of that oblong piece of plastic created for some Card Members an intangible benefit. Of course, this may say more about the Card Member than the card, but the endorsement contained value. The card was a palpable symbol that the Card Member had attained a certain status.