Show me the money! No, wait, show me the payment options! That might sound odd, because payment options are almost entirely about taking your money and not making you money, but honestly, if you want to buy something and the person selling it can’t or won’t take your money, it’s a real problem. And it’s a problem for everyone.
Apple and Amazon love to talk about how many credit cards they have on file and in how many countries they can accept one-click credit card payments. And that’s fine, as far as it goes. iTunes certainly helped Apple scale the App Store internationally very quickly, and content deals in a ton of countries certainly helped make both iOS and Kindle interesting to people who want a lot of media.
Not everyone, everywhere has access to a credit card.
But the simple fact remains that not everyone, everywhere has access to a credit card. That’s why, especially internationally and in emerging markets, it’s critical to have options. Otherwise no credit card, no sale, and your fabulous device just got really boring, really quickly.
In addition to credit cards, PayPal is a must. Sure, a lot of people don’t like Paypal and their policies, but it’s pretty much ubiquitous at this point. Throw in Stripe, Square, and whatever other competitors come out in the mobile space as well. The more the merrier when it comes to money.
Behind register number three…
Each ecosystem offers its own set of payment options. Apple’s iTunes, for example, supports credit cards, iTunes gift cards, ClickandBuy (in Europe), and PayPal. Unless you’re in a country where Apple only sells apps, in which case you can only use a credit card.
Those on BlackBerry 10 have two or three options in BlackBerry World: credit card, PayPal, or – depending on their network – carrier billing.
Google Play’s payment options include credit or debit cards, Google Play gift cards, carrier billing where supported, and Google Wallet (which supports credit cards).
Windows Phone users can use credit or debit cards, Microsoft gift cards, and PayPal to make payments in the Windows Phone Store and on Xbox Live.
What’s really important, though, is the inclusion of carrier billing. Even in places where people don’t have credit cards and don’t have Paypal, in order to have a phone they still have to have a carrier and that makes carrier billing a solid default option, and sometimes the only one. Instead of paying though a phone, paying with a phone has to be there. It just has to.
Bitcoin? Sure, why not! I’d actually be curious to see which app store starts taking them first.
In general, if I’m offering up my money for apps, music, movies, etc., then I should be able to pay using whatever method I want (within reason – I don’t see Apple accepting bushels of wheat in exchange for the latest Daft Punk album any time soon). While that’s true to some extent today, it needs to be even more true tomorrow.
Talk Mobile Survey: The state of mobile platforms