P2P mobile payments in Brazil #fail

Posted on April 24, 2012


This was originally posted to my internal IBM blog on 17:11 19/04/2012, Steve Devo, apps, brazil, bump, golden, golden_month, mobile, mobile_payment, month, nfc, payment, paypal, Mobile Internet

Saw this report in Mobile Money regarding a P2P (Person to Person) payment service in Brazil and was all excited.

Till I read the report and saw that like so many of its predecessors it is fundamentally flawed. Ohh dear.


Let me explain:

the service only works on 3 phone models, and they are all Nokia. Now don’t get me wrong I’ve nothing against Nokia (indeed my N95 was a brilliant device) however 3 different devices is not enough coverage. Therefore the users will rarely find others that can use the service.

You might think that this is OK, however us humans are creatures of habit, and we will only think of using the system if we can use it often enough in the Golden Month* otherwise it will fade from our consciousness and will not be thought of.

this has been the bane of so many good systems that were useful, sometimes vital services, but suffer from this issue of coverage.

Therefore this service will not be used enough to cross over the threshold, and will die.


Also it is disappointingly derivative, in that you tap the devices together, and this is how the transfer is actioned. Now don’t get me wrong again, I think this is a good way of it working, because it requires a distinctive action from the users. However Paypal have been using this mechanism for some years now (Paypal Bump, in case you asked) and it would have been good to see some other method being used to be able to compare and contrast.


*Golden Month

When a user downloads a new app, you have about a month to success, and the first 3 days are the most important of that month. If you cannot obtain regular and positive usage in this period then the app will languish on the device unused and unloved. There are stats that something like more than 70% of apps are only used twice. therefore success is dependent on the apps ability to engage quickly and effectively, and for the usage to cross the usage threshold.

The example I use most often is that of the early location based services. Most of these were find me the nearest … eg ATM. They worked well enough, you asked, and a map (crude by today’s standards, but still functional) was provided with a list of addresses to whatever was chosen (chinese restaurant, chippie, ATM etcetc)

The problem these apps had is that most people most of the time are not lost, they are in towns and places they frequent regularly (home, work, friends and the like) and of course they generally know where the nearest … is in these locations. So when they are are out and about they do not think to use the app, because it is not a LEARNED BEHAVIOUR and as such they will not think of it. And the way for an to become a learned behaviour is through familiarity and usage. All of these services died a slow death. they have been replaced with Navigation tools that include “nearest …” functions.





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