UX essentials for seamless mobile wallets

UX essentials for seamless mobile wallets

Mobile wallets promise to make paying easier and more secure. As we enter a new decade, larger tech trends are influencing mobile wallet development. Asian wallets such as Alipay and Wechat Pay have a massive headstart on their western counterparts. East Asia is the region with the most widespread use, but many companies in the west are starting to catch up.

Larger services such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay aim to capture a market among users of their devices. Others are trying to capture a niche or a specific region. Polish mobile wallet Blik, for example, is among the most popular options here in Poland and integrates with major banks in the country.

Poles are more likely to pay for things online with a direct bank transfer rather than use a credit or debit card. Blik and other niche wallets want to bridge that gap and provide a more user-friendly experience. Others would do well to follow that model.

As I mentioned, the biggest market for mobile wallets by the number of users is in China. Before Alipay and Wechat Pay, Chinese consumers could not easily pay for things outside of the city their bank branch was in. This chaos drove the rapid adoption of mobile wallets, which facilitated online payments. Convincing consumers in China to adopt mobile payments was fairly easy because the market was ripe for rapid mobile wallet adoption.

In Western markets and Japan, where card payments are user-friendly and moderately secure, convincing people to use a mobile wallet will take some work. People tend to be conservative in adopting payment methods and these services need to build trust. Keeping users happy is an ever-increasing challenge for these applications. So what makes these mobile wallets so easy to use and attractive for consumers?

User experience and interface design are critical considerations for any mobile wallet. As with any application, following the core tenets of good design are even more important for ones that deal with money.

The room for error is much lower with mobile wallets. Tight security and usability need to go hand in hand. Getting these things right on product launch is a must.

Mobile wallets

Mobile wallets come in a variety of forms the most common are either applications that integrate with a bank account or ones you load with money from a bank account. Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, and the Polish mobile wallet Blik integrate with a bank account and facilitate payments. PayPal’s Venmo and Revolut are some that you have to load.

Many use near field communication on enabled devices or use QR codes to complete payments. These applications aim to simplify payments by replacing credit and debit cards and making these payments more secure.

Further than that, though, they’re paving the way for better payment options and ultimately including more people in a payments landscape.

Mobile wallet usability

Like any mobile application, following some basic usability rules are essential. Any app that deals with money should provide a clear path for users to accomplish their goals. In this case, it’s paying with their mobile device.

I ran an informal poll in our office as I was writing this article asking who in the team uses a mobile wallet, which one, and why or why not. Of those that do use a mobile wallet, many cited the fact that it’s often easier to use since they already have their phone handy. Instead of carrying several cards, all their payment information can be safely stored on a mobile wallet.

They went on to cite the security of these payments since it would be harder to use a stolen phone — especially those with screen locks or biometric access — to pay than a stolen card, for example.

In terms of usability, the simpler mobile wallets were more popular. Fewer steps or verification hurdles won out. Apple Pay, Blik, and Google Pay were the most popular cited.

Revolut was also a popular choice, though its main use is not for everyday payments, but rather for traveling since it allows you to pay from your wallet in local currency for very low fees. Revolut is one you have to load through bank transfer. So there is a slightly clunky on and off ramp. One of its limitations is that it can take several days to transfer money from the Revolut wallet back to a bank account.

For those who don’t use a mobile wallet, the main reason is that they don’t see a point. Their credit or debit card works just fine. Some cited that they signed up for a mobile wallet to access a discount and then never used it again. In the West, this tactic to entice new users through incentives and rewards could work, but mobile wallets will have to introduce more attractive features to be successful in the long term.

Desired features

My set of mobile wallet users said they wished there were higher limits for contactless payments in Poland — currently the Polish złoty equivalent of $13.00. This limit complicates mobile payments and can add time in the checkout line once you cross it.

They also wanted more options for investment and other more bank-like services.

As these services evolve and continue to improve, getting a clear vision of who your users are and what they’ll be using their mobile wallets to do is vital. Ensuring that payments are both secure and easy to complete through seamless UX design is the next step.

Aim for a simple design with easy-to-use payment technology such as NFC or QR codes. Biometric access is another step in the right direction by both ensuring that the user is who he says he is and it secures the account from hackers and thieves. Integrating with a bank account and providing fast on and off ramps are essential usability features too.


As the payments industry proliferates and more mobile wallets emerge in the market the ecosystem will get increasingly crowded. Many of the most popular wallets only serve a specific region or offer users a specific utility. Identifying this gap in the market is an essential step toward launching a successful mobile wallet.

Unsure about where to start? Take a product design workshop and get expert insights and a clickable prototype for your mobile wallet. Our head of design and technology consultants will guide you through the process and build a roadmap for further development.

Drop us a line to find out the best plan of action for your mobile wallet launch.

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