I have been fascinated with mobile wallets for a while (note 4). They've been "just a few years out" since the first Finovate (Oct 2007), where multiple mobile banking pioneers laid out their product roadmaps. And now we are starting to see real implementations. Not just Square and Starbucks. But financial institutions are moving forward.
The latest rollout, the Capital One and ShopSavvy deal, was announced last month (press release). Capital One has already partnered with several major card-linked offers providers (and acquired one), but apparently it is still looking to boost its mobile efforts (note 1).
ShopSavvy is a San Francisco-based startup which has built a mobile wallet, shopping and deals apps. It has raised $11 million, two-thirds from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.
The company has integrations with a number of online merchants including Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Overstock.com, Target, Best Buy and others (note 2). Those links allow users find online prices, either by scanning a bar code in-store or in-app search, then purchase online with a single slide (see inset).
I got the invite from Capital One Wednesday morning with an eye-catching $20-off offer (see first screenshot below). But this wasn't like a straightforward card-linked offer where cardholders activate the deal and then buy.
To bank this savings, users had to power through a three-stage process:
1. Sign up for an account at ShopSavvy using the link in the email. It's a relatively painless process, taking just a minute or two. None of my personal info was prepopulated (see screenshot #3-5 below).
2. Add the app to your mobile phone by locating the ShopSavvy app in the App store, downloading and opening.
3. Activate the ShopSavvy app by entering your username and password and repeating the info you'd entered online to set up your profile.
Altogether, it's a somewhat convoluted 5- to 6-minute process, but one that is probably acceptable for early adopters. I did have intermittent problems with the app, network errors, crashes and bizarre search results (note 3). But it seems to have stabilized now after the initial usage spike.
Bottom line: Once it started working properly, the ShopSavvy features were impressive. The simple search combined with one-click purchasing would make a nice addition to a bank or card issuer's mobile app. I'm still a little surprised that Capital One is endorsing a third-party wallet. But by getting its card "top of e-wallet," the giant issuer boosts charge volume, mobilizes its card-linked offers, and gets a foothold in the wallet space.
Capital One email to customers offering a $20 statement credit to use the ShopSavvy wallet (12 March 2013)
Step 1: Join ShopSavvy
Step 2: Add Capital One credit card
Step 3: Locate, download and activate the ShopSavvy mobile wallet app
1. Or perhaps this is more of a straight revenue-play for Capital One, with ShopSavvy paying the card issuer for each new customer.
2. Unfortunately, ShopSavvy's one-click experience does not extend to Amazon.com, but the app does display Amazon prices and it's just a few more clicks to buy there.
3. Initially, I tried the app with a few barcodes I found at home and it worked, but only on the media stuff. Since I didn't want to buy anything I already owned, I went to the last remaining bookstore in northeast Seattle and gave it a try. Unfortunately, this store covers the regular barcode with its own, which are not indexed in the ShopSavvy database. But when I tried it again last night, the search function was working so I was able to easily find a DVD set and buy it from Target.com for a competitive price (even before the $20 statement credit).
4. For more info on mobile wallets, see our most recent Online Banking Report: Mobile & Cloud Wallets (Feb 2013, subscription)