Many of us now hop out of cabs without handing anything to the driver. We walk away with our morning coffee, offering the barista only a smile in return. We purchase sofas while riding the bus. The growing ubiquity of mobile devices is causing the biggest shift in commerce since the dawn of the web. Only this time, it’s escaping the confines of our computers and spilling out into every aspect of our daily lives. As designers and technologists, we need to consider the implications of this shift on the things we build, and the people who use them.
In this presentation, I explore the global shift to mobile commerce - which is happening even faster than you think. We will look at emerging hardware and software technologies behind an explosion of experimentation in how we pay for almost everything. We’ll also look at the ways designers and developers can create great experiences in the world of mobile commerce.
A version without speaker notes is also available at https://speakerdeck.com/mvboeke/getting-paid-in-7-inches-or-less
Getting paid in
7 Inches or less
Michael Boeke | @mvboeke
Hi, I’m Michael Boeke. I’m a designer who has worked at few different startups in Chicago. I currently work as a product manager at Braintree. I’m here to
talk about commerce - speciﬁcally getting paid - on mobile devices.
Why commerce? As creative people, we sometimes like to distance ourselves from concerns about money - like selling things means that we are selling
out. But commerce is a fundamental human activity. It can be one of the most meaningful ways humans communicate with each other, and I think it’s why
the marketplace has long been central to human communities. Photo: https://ﬂic.kr/p/6gL93t
People who don’t even speak the same language ﬁnd ways to trade with each other. And commerce binds us together. No two countries that have a
McDonalds have ever gone to war against each other. As a designer, I ﬁnd great satisfaction in facilitating these interactions. https://ﬂic.kr/p/7bxLDZ
And this is an excited time to be working on this problem, as we are seeing radical shift in commerce. I think most of us in this crowd have had the
experience of hopping out of a cab without handing the driver any form of a payment. Thanks to this amazing service from Uber.
Image: Blue Bottle
Some of us might even have had a similar experience when buying a cup of hipster coffee, thanks to an app that is running on our phone and knows we
are at the coffee shop. Side note, one of the ways you can tell if your coffee is hipster coffee, is if there is no sign on the coffee shop. A lot of new and
amazing things are happening with how we pay, and that’s what drew me to working at Braintree.
We simplify payments for
thousands of amazing companies
Braintree is a full-stack payments platform that makes it
easy to accept payments in your app or on your website.
If you’re not familiar with Braintree, we are a payments platform that makes it easy for developers to accept payment in their apps and on their website.
We’ve been around for a ﬁve years, but you may have heard that we were recently acquired by PayPal.
Braintree powers payments for many of the companies that designers and developers love, like Fab, GitHub, and 37 Signals.
Pay your friends instantly
with the ﬁrst fun and social
payment platform. Make
ultra secure transactions
without any fees.
Braintree also has fantastic payments app called Venmo, which ensures you’ll never owe your friends money again. It makes it super simple to pay friends
for things like cab rides, bar tabs, and even rent or utilities.
Mobile Payments Leader
We power the fastest growing and most
innovative mobile commerce experiences
Our payments platform handles payments for some of the leaders in mobile commerce. As we started talking with then and digging into their business a
few years ago, we realized a startling truth.
Mobile is eating the world
The Startling Truth:
As Benedict Evans says, mobile is eating the world. What exactly does that mean?
Mobile is Eating The World
Source: Benedict Evans Mobile is Eating the World (page 6)
Data: Enders Analysis
1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011 2013e
GLOBAL ANNUAL UNIT SALES (M)
PCs Smartphones & tablets
Here is a slide from one of Benedict’s talks that crisply illustrates just how mobile is eating the world. Starting in 2011 mobile devices start outselling
traditional computers like desktops and notebooks. In 2012 mobile device sales utterly eclipsed computer sales, and he projection for 2013 is that the rate
mobile devices sales growth will continue to increase, shipping more than 3x as many mobile devices as traditional computers.
Mobile is Eating The World
Source: Mary Meeker and Liang Wu, 2013 Internet Trends (page 45)
A large chunk of that growth is thanks to an all-new computing device, which is being adopted at a faster rate than previous waves of personal computing
technology. This chart from Mary Meeker’s celebrated Internet Trends presentation for 2013, shows that it took more than 10 years for notebook computer
sales to eclipse desktops. However, the tablet category has existed in earnest for just 3 short years, and tablets already outsell laptops and desktops.
Mobile traffic as % of global internet traffic
Mary Meeker / KPCB / Internet Trends D11 Conference
Source: StatCounter Global Stats, 5/13. Note that PC-based internet data bolstered by streaming.
12/10 12/11 12/12 12/13E 12/14E
So, there are a ton of new mobile devices entering the world each month. Does that have any effect on people’s behavior? Well if we look at global internet
traffic on mobile devices, it’s been growing at about 1.5x each year. In 2014, mobile devices will likely account for about a third of all internet traffic.
Mobile is eating the world
55% of online shopping minutes already occur on mobile
For a long time, the common wisdom of retail was that customers used their mobile devices for tasks like email and social networking, but when they
wanted to shop, they went to a store or a website. In the last year or so, I think everyone has woken up to the fact that mobile is becoming the dominant
channel for shopping. And it’s not just in the future. By at least one important metric, we’ve already crossed a tipping point. More than half of all time
spent shopping online now happens on mobile devices. That number is only going to grow.
Mobile is eating the world
55% of online shopping minutes already occur on mobile
That number is only going to grow.
These are three signiﬁcant challenges to designing for commerce on mobile devices. Merchandising an array of products on a small display. Entering
payment information on a touchscreen device at checkout. Using the contextual information from the device to address the ﬁrst two challenges.
90% of everything is crap
I love Sturgeon’s law, which states that “90% of everything is crap”. It applies to most things in life, including merchandising on a mobile screen. For
merchandising, merchants need to combine elegant design with different types of data to quickly show a mobile user the exact product they want or need.
Even if the items a retailer carries are high quality, their just crap if they are aren’t relevant to the customer.
(Image goes here)
Amazon - the desktop warehouse club
Merchandising on a laptop display is like Costco - you can use the space to offer customers the widest variety possible. I’m certain Amazon is using a ton
of smart data put this screen together. But with this much space, they don’t have to prioritize that hard. Let’s break this down: They have 3 different
streams of products presented in the main body. Then there are 6 different ads displayed on the right rail. Plus there is the catchall navigation on the left.
Fab - the mobile boutique
Merchandising on mobile is more like a convenience store or fashion boutique - you have limited space, so you need to make sure you have exactly what
the customer is looking for, or something that immediately inspires them to purchase. Looking at retailer like Fab, who does a major portion of their sales
through their apps, we can see they have just one stream - full of stuff I want to buy! Look at that hello kitty Uglydoll. I want to order one of those for my
daughter right now. With my phone, I can.
Luckily, mobile devices provide some additional context that can be used for merchandising, to help provide the most relevant choices for customers. The
include location services, buying history across apps, and cloud data. We are just beginning to tap into this stuff. One of the good early examples of this is
Google Now. Here we can see the header design is based off my location in Chicago, and before I even search for anything, it shows me information I
might be interested in like, ﬂight info from my Gmail account. Whether we are working on a shopping site, or a Google apps, as designers, we need to
think about how these new tools inform our design decisions.
So that was a little about the ﬁrst challenge, merchandising. Next, let’s take a look at checkout on a mobile device, and see where the challenges are.
What’s hard about
checkout on mobile?
What’s hard about checkout on mobile? In a word: touchscreens. We don’t have real keyboards, we have these ﬁddly little pieces of glass, with tiny buttons
and no tactile feedback. What’s more, users are often trying to type in difficult environments like walking down the street, or riding the bus. We have to
ﬁnd easier ways to get users over the hump of entering payment information.
-Eric S. Raymond
You are serving the machine
When you tell a computer things it can deduce,
As we thought about this problem at Braintree, we realized that context could help address the checkout problem. And our approach is summed up nicely
in this quote from Eric Raymond. “Every time you require a human to tell a computer things that it already knows or can deduce, you are making a human
serve the machine.”
You may be thinking “Serving machines isn’t so bad…robots are awesome! We should be friends.” But it’s a short hop from this…
wanna kill all
…to this. So at Braintree, we took the bold stance that humans must come ﬁrst! And this is what we came up with.
One Touch checkout on the first purchase
Venmo Touch: one touch checkout on the ﬁrst purchase. Let’s take a look at how it works.
card info once
The ﬁrst time you go to make a purchase in an app that’s part of the Venmo Touch network, you enter your payment info, credit card number, expiration
date, and shipping address one time, and automatically store it for later use in other apps on your mobile device.
Check out with
a single touch...
Next time you come back to that app, you can check out with just one touch. This is the repeat purchase experience we’ve come to expect from most
But it gets really interesting when you download other apps in the Venmo Touch network, because you can check out with just one touch in those apps
too. If you enter your payment information in the Belly app, then when you go to buy some new clothes at Trunk Club for the ﬁrst time, you dont have to
enter any information at all. You can just touch the button to use the same credit card you used with Belly.
No redirecting to other pages or apps
No Venmo account or signup required
Lightweight but strong security verification
Context on the mobile device enables Venmo Touch to do some remarkable things. User don’t have to download another app to get started, they just join
the network as part of checkout in one of their existing apps. They don’t have to sign up for a Venmo account to get the beneﬁt or Venmo Touch either.
We can also deliver strong security in a lightweight fashion that doesn’t require users to remember or type long passwords.
Venmo Touch is an all-software approach to the checkout problem, but there are some interesting approaches that take advantage of mobile hardware.
Card.io uses your phone’s camera to capture credit card information, so you don’t have to type it in. It’s cool experience that always feels like science
ﬁction to me.
And more sci-ﬁ hardware is entering the world. Apple introduced biometric scanning with their iPhone 5S. Instead of entering an iTunes password, users
can scan their ﬁngerprint to purchase apps, music, and movies from the iTunes store.
Apple isn’t the only phone manufacturer to introduce ﬁngerprint recognition. HTC and Samsung include it on their ﬂagship models now. Samsung even
works with purchasing physical things - not just digital downloads. You can use a Samsung phone with PayPal Here to order your food and pay for it with
your ﬁngerprint, and it’s ready for pickup by the time you walk to the restaurant.
So there are lots of advances in technology within our devices, but there are also big changes coming with introduction of beacons, which will transform
how our mobile devices react to the environment around us. We are seeing the launch of a variety of beacon technologies, including PayPal Beacon,
iBeacon, Estimote. The PayPal beacon will plug into a register and enable checkout automatically when your phone is nearby.
Estimote is a startup focused on beacons in a retail setting, like offering deals to devices nearby store displays. For instance, a customer lingering around a
shoe rack might get a coupon to purchase the shoes on display.
This technology feels like it’s from a sci-ﬁ movie or maybe somewhere magical. As designers, it can make us feel like dashing young wizards. But as every
Harry Potter fan knows, magic has a darks side as well.
Danger in Magic
There is wonder in magic, but there is also danger. Your users could be scared off by automation that they think jeopardizes their privacy or security of
their information. Even if you don’t give a damn about doing the right thing for you users, you have to think about how your product will be received.
Mike Monteiro, Mule Design
You are directly responsible for
what you put into the world.
How Designers Destroyed the World
Mike Monteiro gives a fantastic talk called “How Designers Destroyed the World”. It’s a tremendous call for ethics in design, and a reminder that as we are
exploiting all of this contextual information from mobile devices, we have a responsibility to handle it carefully.
When building Venmo Touch, my colleague John Sturino camp up with the concept of the cool/creepy line. There was a lot of discussion about how we
could provide the right information and messaging to make sure we ended up on the cool side of things.
If a user sees their sensitive show up somewhere unexpected, and they’re not sure how it got there, their going to ﬁnd it disconcerting. That feeling may
overwhelm any magic or beneﬁt they receive from the feature.
If a user sees that their sensitive information is being used to make their life easier, they understand how the information got there, and they trust the
company or app, then they are likely to think it’s cool.
How do we achieve this? Transparency and control. We offer our users transparency about how their information is being used, and give them control over
their information, including intelligent defaults.
The team that designed the Venmo Touch UI, applied both of these principles. It clearly states what is going to happen (transparency), and offers a link to
more detailed information. It also offers the user a choice about whether to participate or not (control).
If we do this right, we can get the best of both worlds - magic without the downsides.
© 2013 Braintree Payment Solutions, LLC. All rights reserved.
Thank you! If you’re interested in learning more about Braintree or Venmo Touch, please visit us at braintreepayments.com. You can also follow me on
Twitter for more about design, startups and commerce.