RBTE 2017: Sainsbury’s throws down gauntlet to mobile payments industry

Adam Bialy, head of payment technology at Sainsbury’s, revealed at an RBTE 2017 panel discussion that retailers currently see mobile payment vendors as a “threat”.

The retailers’ perspective is that many people have joined the payments industry just because they want a piece of the data,” said Bialy.  “Data on customer behaviour and what the customer is doing in the retail environment is the most prized possession any retailer has.”

Nathalie Oestmann, the head of Samsung Pay’s European operation, outlined how Samsung is building loyalty into its mobile wallet in order to drive take up of mobile payments.

Verifone VP of commerce enablement and global innovation, Nathan Gill, agreed that loyalty “is the most obvious application” of NFC payments and can speed up the checkout process for retailers because it cuts out the need for the customer to search for the store’s loyalty card.

However, Bialy believes that currently the only value proposition for mobile wallets is around convenience and even that is questionable because contactless card payments are faster. 

“The value that is behind loyalty is held by retailers, the schemes and tech companies like Samsung are facilitators in that process, so it is important to distinguish what is actually generating value for that customer,” said Bialy. “What the customer gets from the retailer is the funding of the loyalty scheme.”

Bialy added that mobile wallets are being held back because of the fear from retailers that their payments partners “are looking into what their customer is doing” in order to sell the data back to the retailer or to their rivals.

He concluded by calling for an end to the confusion created by the fragmentation within the payments industry caused by the number of companies vying for a piece of the action.

“Someone needs to take responsibility for the state of play in the payments industry right now and I think it is time the merchants consider this seriously and got together as a consortium,” said Bialy.