Our chat with Jerome Seidita, mobile commerce director, Nok Airlines, outlines some of the issues facing airlines for mobile commerce, topics which were discussed and debated at the Airline & Travel Payments Summit (ATPS) Asia-Pacific (Bangkok, 26 - 27 Aug 2015) and will be covered at the 9th Airline & Travel Payments Summit (ATPS) Worldwide (Ft. Worth, 29-30 Oct 2-15)
From A Traveller’s Lens
Every country has its own inimitable challenges when it comes to accepting payment via mobile.
For instance, while some markets are showing signs of making steady progress with contactless ecosystem, there are others that are fairly new to this arena.
Yet airlines are adapting and trying to improve upon the payment experience. For example, Thailand’s Nok Air has carved out a unique offline payment method when their customers book via its mobile channel.
So what is this initiative all about? What is Seidita’s take on 3D Secure, and dealing with regular changes in apps?
Ai’s Ritesh Gupta spoke to Seidita about mobile and payments in detail. Excerpts:
Ai: To what extent is your travel being simplified and how comfortable are you spending via apps?
In my opinion, mobile apps changed the world by simplifying complicated tasks in just few taps. Mobile behavior is different than desktop, users want reactivity, fast processes and simplicity.
For me, amazing and efficient apps are the simplest one. Simplicity in the design, in the quantity of information, in the capacity or remembering past behaviors and information to make processes faster.
The best example for me is the Uber application. It’s amazing how simple it became to order a private car. They know your location, your credit card number and your preferences, you just have to tell them where you want to go even though they probably knew it before you.
When it comes to payment via apps, I feel very comfortable paying for goods and services from my mobile device. But it all depends on the application, if I have to spend more time giving the app my personal / payment information than selecting the product I want to buy, I prefer to use another channel such as web.
Ai: Any anecdote that you would like to share while conceptualizing and designing apps and mobile website for Nok Airlines? What did you learn from that experience?
Nok Air is an innovative airline, we like very much exploring new technologies that would enhance our passengers journey. One of the latest initiatives was to make Nok Air one of the few first airlines to release an Apple Watch application on day one.
When you start designing a new version of an app or mobile website you have to put yourself in the passenger shoes. Take everything that has been done on web and change it to be more simple, logic and fast on mobile.
Few years back we started to work on “Low Fare Search”, a new way for passengers to look for the best fares available in an entire month instead of a single day. This functionality, still available today on our apps, was first implemented on our desktop website and we had to completely reinvent the user experience on our mobile channels.
Desktop website did a great job by giving the user the cheapest flight of every day of the selected month but what if the user wanted to pay a little bit more but choose a flight that was leaving at night instead of the morning? Using a great user interface to cover complex API’s we have been able to create a flight result page that offered both the cheapest flights but also all other available flights accessible with one tap.
What I learned from this project is that when designing apps for mobile devices you can get inspired from what have been created on other channels but you should never offer it exactly the same way. Passengers interact differently on their mobile, they have other expectations.
Ai: What would you term as the toughest aspect of your role? Can you cite examples?
Mobile demand is growing very fast, technologies are changing every year but development is unfortunately not following at the same speed.
Being innovative, offer a secure environment and implement airline requirement at the same time can be challenging for our developers who need to work on many projects, often never done before.
To give a recent example, the Apple Watch app was released in April 2015 and less than 2 months later we learned that there was a complete new environment we could convert our application to. It’s a great improvement but it will require to change what we just finished to built in a very short time.
Another tough aspect is that with Apple and Google in the market, offering amazing user experiences on mobile, people are expecting a lot more from developers than on desktop. If you want your mobile channels to work, you constantly need to plan for the next update and make sure your users are happy with it. Very challenging but we love it here.
Ai: Can you explain what should one look at while preparing for payment options via mobile?
Mobile payment was, as desktop at the beginning, difficult to trust but I believe people are now willing to spend on their mobile devices. We just need to make sure our offer is secure, trustable and offer the best user experience.
At Nok Air we offer a very innovative offline payment method when you book on our mobile channels. You can book your flight and pay in the next 24 hours in 7-11 (supermarket) or any ATMs in Thailand. We also offer credit cards and almost finished to integrate Apple Pay.
For credit cards, we found two solutions that any apps should be looking at, the first is to remember the last credit card number used and the another one is to copy all credit card information from the camera.
Ai: Shopper flow is often compromised at the payment stage by two key failures – a clunky look and feel, and multiple steps to complete the purchase. How to overcome such barriers?
For the clunky look and feel I believe we now have all the tools to create a great design, even when it comes to mobile payment. We just need more creative people. The only issue is when you get to the 3D secure page, as the only ones that can control this page are the banks and still a very few of them are thinking mobile for now.
In my opinion, multiple steps are indeed a real key failure. Apple gave the best example by asking users their fingerprints today, nothing else.
With a seamless payment as Apple, users don’t even feel they are spending their money and don’t need to seat and plan when they are booking. I believe Apple Pay is very promising.
Airlines are looking at selectively applying 3D Secure only to high-risk transactions, based on data customized to the airline. Can you explain how this is shaping in the industry?
Credit card fraud in Thailand is still high and at Nok Air we decided to apply 3D secure to every transaction. We are using a great tool to reduce fraud to the very minimum and it works great so far. If we had to take the same question out of Nok Air specific context I would say that this would be a great improvement as it would decrease number of steps and create a smoother booking experience.
Can you cite few examples where airlines can face challenges with mobile payment?
The only challenge we had to face is the integration of direct debit transactions on mobile. The user has to connect to his bank online platform to accept the transaction but banks are still offering this functionality with non mobile friendly pages and it would deteriorate our user experience. We prefer to concentrate on channels that are ready and innovative.