BBVA Has Cracked the Mobile Wallet


BBVA seems to have struck mobile wallet gold

Creating a mobile wallet that’s used by customers to manage their finances or make purchases seems to be a troubling issue in the payments sector. The rather horribly clichéd phrase of ‘build it and they will come’ from Field of Dreams hasn’t quite translated into the mobile wallet market. But that could really be down to the fact that, so far, nobody has built a mobile wallet of any real worth to a consumer. At least, not one that seems to present itself as any more of a benefit over a card or NFC-enabled card.

However, at PayExpo 2014 Luis Uguina from Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, or BBVA as it’s commonly known, shared some tips on how it has blazed a trail where others have failed so spectacularly.

One reason Uguina states is that BBVA looked to not improve the payment process, for there is little need for improvement there, but instead modify the experience of purchasing goods. It was about reducing time at a point of sale and introducing simple ways to add multiple cards and keep options open surrounding loyalty programs and store-specific offers. It’s what many have thought a wallet needed to be, but it’s actually being done right now.

Uguina also stated that the SIM infrastructure previously implemented in handsets for the Secure Element aspect of NFC was really holding back mobile wallet development, claiming that it really caused a lot of “friction” to the seamlessness of NFC. Thankfully, Host Card Emulation does away with such worry, meaning that even BBVA’s NFC stickers for iPhones and non NFC-enabled devices can now work more efficiently than they previously did.

Another great feature that’s seen a lot of use is the ability to create new card accounts from other cards, creating capped spending on certain profiles, or even switchable card profiles so when abroad you can feel safe in the knowledge that you aren’t paying with a card that’ll charge you absurd rates for foreign purchases. It’s even got the ability to lock cards and see when people have made a payment elsewhere with your card – preventing fraud in real-time. A companion card, programmed to a particular card in your mobile wallet, also allows for cashless flexibility when travelling abroad too.

However, the ‘coolest’ feature is the ability to pay off another card within the app itself. So, spend money on a credit card, then clear that payment near instantly with another card in your mobile wallet too. It’ll even show you card statements in real time, doing away with paper billing entirely and not having to rely on users to check into online banking to keep check of their spending.

It’s seemingly working too, with BBVA reporting some impressive stats.

Uguina says that there are already  over 204,000 active app users (active defined by having made a payment in the last week), with a predicted one million by end of year. Of those who use the BBVA NFC stickers, 82,000 of them are deemed as active. Merchant partners who made use of direct offers to users saw a success rate increase of 21 times, and card usage increased fourfold due to being integrated into its mobile wallet.

And, while of no interest to consumers, nor their adoption of it, BBVA’s wallet actually comes connected to a powerful analytics service that actually lets merchants see when people are using its wallet most, letting them tailor and track promotions or reactions to sales.

It seems that most payment companies could take a page out of BBVA’s book when building their own mobile wallets.

Are there any other companies out there doing something similar? We’d love to know.

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