In the series The inside story x 3, experts from the Plan.Net group regularly explain a current topic from the digital world from different perspectives. What does it mean for Granny, and for an agency colleague? And what does the customer – in other words, a company – get out of it?

While you often find signs saying “No cash, only cards” in shops and restaurants abroad, cash is still the most popular payment method in Germany. In many places, debit and credit cards are not accepted. Up until now, mobile payment has also been difficult in Germany, but that could change this year. With the launch of Google Pay in June and the planned launch of Apple Pay in September, the German market will finally be tapped. So it’s high time for retailers and marketers to consider the impact of mobile payment on the shopping experience.

Mobile payment is still virtually never used in Germany

Grandma, we have to talk. Why are you so determined to hold on to your beloved cash, and so reluctant to use new payment methods? Are you concerned about security? Fear of Internet fraudsters and concern about data protection is likely the major reason why mobile payment has not yet been successful in Germany. Mobile payment has previously been used for small, low-risk transactions, such as grocery shopping or public transport.

Or are you reluctant because you do not yet realise how beneficial mobile payment could be for you? Admittedly, contactless payment using debit or credit cards at the register in bricks-and-mortar retailers has the same advantages as mobile payment: speed and convenience.

Whatever the reasons preventing you from giving mobile payment a chance, you’re not alone. According to a survey by Oliver Wyman (2017), only seven per cent of German respondents have ever paid with their smartphone at the point of sale. The positive news: one third of non-users can imagine using mobile payment in the future.

Mobile payment has been mainstream in Asia for some time

Here in Germany, we are still coming to terms with the “new” option of mobile payment, while in Asia paying by smartphone has long been part of everyday life. Last year, 70 per cent of mobile Internet users in China paid using their mobile phones (CNNIC 2017), which accounted for more than half of all payments in the same period, according to a study by the Deutsche Bundesbank. The leading providers are the instant messenger WeChat (WeChat Pay) and the online retailer Alibaba (Alipay). The use of these two mobile payment apps is simple. To complete a transaction, all you need is a QR code and the app. Simply scan the QR code and pay in the app. Alipay and WeChat Pay not only work in large stores, but can even be used to pay for a melon at a small street vendor.

An even more exciting prospect is that, in the future, you may be able to pay without even needing your smartphone to authenticate the payment process.

In the Chinese metropolis of Hangzhou, customers of the fast-food chain KFC can pay with a smile. The face recognition software “Smile to Pay” takes one to two seconds to create a 3D scan of the face and identify the customer. For security reasons, the order is additionally verified by entering the mobile phone number.

Will developments in the mobile payment sector have an impact on agency work? Probably not any time soon. But in the future it may be possible to book the post-payment page as an advertising space with Google Pay and to play ads that are tailored to the user profile – age, gender, region and consumer behaviour.

How can merchants take advantage of mobile payment for themselves?

Mobile payment has so far been somewhat neglected by bricks-and-mortar retailers. Digital trends such as augmented reality, virtual reality and speech assistants have been seen as much more exciting. But mobile payment is an important part of the digitisation of bricks-and-mortar retail and should not be ignored. Many customers already use their smartphone during offline shopping – as a storefinder, for product research or for navigation within the store with the help of augmented reality apps. Now, the next logical step is the digitisation of the purchase.

When bricks-and-mortar stores support mobile payment as a payment method, they offer their customers two advantages, namely time savings and convenience. With consumers’ increasingly fast-moving and mobile lifestyle in mind, these factors are critical to customer experience and customer satisfaction.

The fashion department store Breuninger is a pioneer of mobile payment in Germany. Breuninger is the first German department store to offer Alipay and WeChat Pay as a payment method aimed at wealthy and shopping-happy Chinese tourists.

Will German shoppers start using mobile payment methods more in future? Only time will tell. In any case, bricks-and-mortar stores should already be considering how to integrate mobile payment into the customer experience.

In the series The inside story x 3, experts from the Plan.Net group regularly explain a current topic from the digital world from different perspectives. What does it mean for Granny, and for an agency colleague? And what does the customer – in other words, a company – get out of it?

Ever heard of Kuro Takhasomi? No? Better known by his nickname KuroKy, the 25-year-old from Berlin is one of the biggest stars in his sport, and has already played his way to over USD 3.7 million in prize money. In mid-August, KuroKy and his co-players from Team Liquid will be competing in “The International”, a major eSports tournament taking place in Vancouver. Their aim? To defend their title in the world’s most lucrative eSports event. The name of the event? Dota 2, a team-based computer game. Long derided as the antisocial hobby of cellar-dwelling teens, eSports are now well on their way to becoming a billion-dollar market – and the sponsorship and advertising opportunities in this rapidly-developing scene are enormous.

eSports: as diverse as the traditional kind, with stars emulated by millions

If my Granny were to ask me what eSports are all about, the answer would be pretty straightforward. Just like in the Olympics, players compete with each other either individually or in teams in disciplines of all kinds. Instead of volleyball, tennis or archery, however, these disciplines are computer games, such as Dota 2, League of Legends or Counterstrike. The equipment? Rackets, trainers, and balls are replaced here by a mouse and a keyboard. And the different games are just as varied as traditional sporting disciplines – there’s no single “eSport”.

The various games are organized into leagues and championships in which the competing teams often hail from all over the world. The final rounds of these fill massive arenas with thousands of spectators, with the events also broadcast on the Internet and, increasingly, on traditional television.

There is one thing that sports and eSports do have in common, though: the leap from hobby to career can only be made with years of hard training and huge amounts of discipline. And it’s here that the answer can be found to that often-asked question, “Why would people want to watch other people playing games?” For the same reason that people sit in front of their TVs watching the likes of Lionel Messi, LeBron James or Serena Williams do their thing: because they’re the very best in their respective disciplines, and can perform feats that the hobby player can only dream of.

eSports: an attractive media environment and a driving force behind streaming platforms

eSports are primarily a digital entertainment medium, with high coverage and long viewing times that make them perfectly suited to digital display and video advertising. The primary target group consists of young, tech-savvy men, who are nowadays often difficult to reach using traditional media. The most important eSports platform is undoubtedly Amazon´s subsidiary Twitch, where eSports count among the most watched content. A special feature of eSports is the close link between the pros and the fan community: many eSports enthusiasts not only follow the big tournaments, but are also loyal viewers of daily player training sessions, during which they are able to interact directly with the stars they emulate and learn more about their favourite games.
Recent years have also seen YouTube and Facebook begin investing heavily in eSports. At the beginning of the year, the Electronic Sports League signed an exclusive streaming deal with Facebook for some of its popular tournament series, including Counterstrike.

A place where young target groups still think sponsorship and marketing are cool

For companies, eSports represent an extremely attractive sponsorship environment. This is because it is precisely those target groups who would otherwise be unlikely to be especially open to sponsorship and advertising communication who are really interested in seeing “their” game and “their” heroes flourish.
The multiplier effect of sponsoring eSports teams or players shouldn’t be underestimated either. The continuous presence of gamers on streaming platforms both between and during tournaments serves to make sponsors an integral part of the community; after all, it is the sponsors who make it possible for the athletes to turn their hobby into a career and to compete at a high level without financial concerns. The fans appreciate this, which makes it easy for brands to cultivate a positive perception of themselves within the scene. In combination with a social media team that engages to some extent with gaming culture and interacts with fans on an equal footing, as well as minor campaigns such as give-aways, this can result in a powerful marketing tool.

A recently published study by our colleagues from WaveMaker has shown that, in addition to high awareness, brands with a presence in the eSports environment – primarily those from the drinks and technology sectors – have also achieved very high brand activation among eSports fans.

And another thing: A good opportunity to gather some first impressions of eSports, gaming, and its fans will be provided at the end of August by GamesCom in Cologne.