Conforming to and simultaneously molding user behavior around new products & services for secure mobile transactions are critical for driving adoption. Ensuring that these products and services are built and deployed in such a way that they can continuously evolve to changing user behavior is a critical component for ensuring scale.
Adoption and scale, which are sometimes used interchangeably, are two very different constructs. The former is dictated by usability, whereas the latter is dependent on the underlying utility – underscore utility and usability.
We have defined m-transactions as the ability to securely and seamlessly conduct transactions in the virtual and real world – across all channels and devices – for finance, retail, healthcare, education, and government applications. Let us stretch this definition further by essentially making the “m” silent, extending this to secure omnichannel digital transactions, and additionally throwing in transactions initiated through “things” on the Internet-of-Everything.
This should give us a fairly comprehensive representation of all personalized transactions and related value-added services across all channels, nodes, demographics, and markets worldwide.
If we were to design a scalable architecture to achieve this – for technology, business, and regulation – we would first start with the components that are truly agnostic to the devices, channels, and services, and are fundamentally focused on enabling true aggregation of disparate domains for existing as well as potentially new transaction rails. We would then layer the vertical requirements, followed by the channel and nodal requirements, and finally top-off our tiered architecture with the personalization layer. There would still be enough flexibility left to introduce an additional layer for customizations specific to demographics and markets.
While this five-tiered architecture is clearly an oversimplification, the purpose of this exercise is not to define the components of the individual layers but to rather figure out exactly where we need to draw a distinction between utility vis-à-vis usability. Once again, it is the usability that will drive adoption and the utility that will ensure scale. Hence, if we are truly trying to understand the issues that will drive adoption and the factors that will influence scale, we will be better served drawing this very important line as early as possible.
As many large infrastructure deployments over the history of human endeavor have shown us, the utility needs to be in place first before the usability can start to show results. Similarly, with our expanded definition of m-transactions, we will need a utility that can ensure scale, upon which we can then start to build the usability to drive adoption.
In the world of financial services, FinServ is slowly but surely becoming the underlying utility, whereas FinTech is being heralded as the driver of usability. While there will be exceptions, this is not necessarily a bad thing and may be a good indicator of things to come across other verticals beyond the world of finance. It is safe to state that the next decade will be about the progression of FinTech to FinServ, from the periphery to the core, from disruption to legacy, from usability to utility, and from adoption to scale.