Cellum Insights

The three commandments for building a successful mobile wallet

Right around a year ago we pointed readers to an infographic published by MasterCard called “The idea mobile wallet,” containing five attributes the global card scheme argued were essential components of any successful mobile wallet.


While we were happy to endorse MasterCard’s rules, over the past twelve months we have increasingly come to see that a key challenge – or even the key challenge – in the mobile payments area is the creative engineering of simplicity. This is certainly true when it comes to end-users – at this point overly complex consumer-facing solutions are widely understood to be the proverbial kiss of death – but also with regards to firms and executives upstream from individual consumers. In fact, making mobile payments less fraught and complicated in both practice and theory has been a long-running priority of Cellum’s. As one example, when we redesigned our corporate website a while back we condensed what had been a long list of security-related “commandments” to what we now call our “Three Golden Rules of Secure Mobile Payments.”

In a similar vein we have decided to take a fresh look at what we consider the current state of the art in mobile wallet development, and to boil down the essentials into a tidy trio of hard and fast rules:

Make it useful: Successful wallets generally need to have many compelling use cases as well as many more relevant merchants able to accept payments from it. Making sure a wallet offers immediate value to consumer is the first step towards making sure it doesn’t suffer the same fate as the one in four mobile apps that are abandoned after a single use, and the many more that are opened just a few times.

Make it usable: A mobile wallet that works is easy to install and register a payment instrument to (e.g. it can’t require replacing the SIM card or any other hardware change), is fully interoperable with other schemes (e.g. MasterPass), and that offers transparent and intuitive user interface. And it needs to operate with a level of speed and reliability that to the user appears perfect. Needless to say, the desire to offer multiple use cases can present a conflict with the demand for ease of use, and finding the right balance is crucial.

Make it secure: While we are listing it last here, security is and will likely remain the primary preoccupation of consumers vis-a-vis mobile payments, with 55% of respondents in a recent survey citing security concerns as the primary reason they would be unlikely to use a digital wallet. And while we could write a book about all the things that go into mobile payment security, we’ve already distilled it down to just three.