Industry Influencer Q&A #6: Will Hernandez

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This blog series is dedicated to sharing the thoughts of industry influencers from across the payments and e-commerce sectors. Over the coming months, we will ask experts to comment on the key issues and trends affecting the industry, and share their thoughts with you here.

William Hernandez

This week’s Industry Influencer is Will Hernandez (@W_Hernandez16), the current editor for Mobile Payments Today, a Networld Media Group publication. He’s been with the company since March 2014.Will has covered the payments industry since 2007, first with SourceMedia as an associate editor for the Payments Group, and then with Mercator Advisory Group as the content manager for PaymentsJournal.com. Will began his journalism career in 2002 as a sportswriter.

What are your general thoughts about the mobile wallet space? Overhyped or a true game changer?

I think at this point it’s a little bit of both. Wallets such as Apple Pay/Passbook and Android Pay show great potential for the future of this industry, but there are still some pain points with consumers to address. Why are mobile wallets better than cash and cards? We keep talking about how mobile wallets need to go beyond the payment. And some do, such as LevelUp and Sionic Mobile. But the so-called heavy hitters are still lagging with untapped potential.

Which companies do you feel are approaching mobile payments in the most intelligent way?

I think companies that put loyalty first over payments are doing in right. I always use LevelUp as the ideal approach. LevelUp is truly trying to help businesses add to their bottom line by giving them the ability to offer loyalty incentives to drive repeat business. Which major mobile wallet provider can make that claim today?

Do you foresee mobile payments ever taking the place of cash and/or credit cards? What would need to happen?

The conditions in the U.S. and U.K. are not right for this to happen, particularly with plastic. Credit and debit accounts will always exist because you need to have some sort of payment mechanism behind the mobile wallet to drive purchases made through them. But we’re not living in Africa or India where mobile behavior has far surpassed the U.S. and U.K. M-Pesa has fundamentally changed the way people live in countries such as Kenya. I think it’s safe to say at this point Apple Pay and Android Pay will probably never come close to making such a claim.

Are you seeing any new developments or technologies that you think may have a major impact on the mpayments space over the next six months to a year?

I think at the moment we’re still at a standstill because the industry hasn’t perfected the things that go beyond the payment. Beacons and geofencing are still untapped technologies to drive more mobile interaction with consumers, thus leading them to more payments with a smartphone. I’m not crazy about efforts such as MasterCard’s Selfie Pay because I think it crosses a line with privacy. Payments with wearables hold some potential in particular use cases such as music festivals and theme parks. My advice for the industry is to perfect the overall mobile experience. The better that is, the more consumers will use their device to pay.