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7-Eleven extends mobile utility to payments for everyday purchases

According to the Taipei Times, the 7-Eleven franchise in Taiwan has partnered with Pi Mobile Technology Inc. and CTBC Bank to enable holders of a CTBC credit card to make purchases from their phone. The news is latest example of how PChome, which is largest online shopping services provider in Taiwan, is boosting at mobile strategy that also include a new instant messaging platform.

“While a bar code, unlike NFC, is a universal delivery vehicle on all smartphones, combining it with a 4-digit pin before each purchase will add unnecessary friction to daily adoption,” said Drew Sievers, founding partner at fintech investor Operative Capital.

“With NFC versions of the iOS and Android platforms grabbing adoption across Asia, it’s only a matter of time before the more kludgy bar code-based solutions are replaced by slicker, frictionless NFC offerings,” he said.

Everyday purchases
While mobile payments have been slow to catch on with consumers, one area where the adoption has been strongest is for small, everyday purchases like those made at convenience store chains such as 7-Eleven.

Recognizing this potential, 7-Eleven has been a leader in the United States and in international markets at testing out number of strategies for leveraging mobile to build loyalty, drive consumers into its locations and to streamline payments.

The Pi mobile wallet app reportedly can be used in more than 5,000 convenience stores in Taiwan.


7-Eleven’s ibon app

PChome, Pi Mobile’s parent and a leading online shopping portal, collaborated with CTBC Bank and Uni-President Enterprises Co., which operates the 7-Eleven franchise in Taiwan, on the app.

Customers must first have the CTBC Bank credit card to make payments through the app via a bar code that appears on the user’s smartphone screen. Users are required to key in a four-digit code before making a purchase.

Purchases of less than $31.95 are permitted through the app.

Mobile payments adoption
Cash payments reportedly account for 75 percent of retail transactions in Taiwan, suggesting that there is some catching up to do in terms of mobile payments adoption.

The Taiwan franchise for 7-Eleven also launched its own ibon mobile payment app in 2012, which reportedly has been downloaded 900,000 times.

In May, PChome launched its PChome Pay service for online payments.


PChome’s IM app

The company also recently launched PChome IM, a free instant messaging app that enables users to download free stickers and marketers to upload their own stickers.

“No one is buying stereos at 7-Eleven, so the transaction limit shouldn’t hinder adoption too much,” Mr. Sievers said. “It’s not uncommon for mobile financial products to limit their downside at launch in order to work out any unforeseen security holes.

“As adoption rises, it’s likely that the transaction limits will too,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York