Technology Knows No Bounds, Sionic Mobile Knows Timing Is Everything
We are sure everyone knows the phrase “[insert term here] knows no bounds.” It is a saying used often and for a very long time.
Many have made this particular reference to many business sectors. In some cases, it may have been accurate, and in others, not so much. In an evolving archetype of how we live, what is the next frontier?
As times change, people change, and their needs change. To meet those needs, companies see opportunities. Some capitalize on those opportunities, while others may strike and miss.
So, as the saying goes, “Timing is everything.” But is it? Do some companies get a second or third shot at glory?
Back Down Technology’s Memory Lane
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, can we?
Remember, before Facebook, there was Myspace. Myspace was the largest social media site in the world from 2005 to 2008. It was then later acquired by News Corporation in July 2005 for $580M. At the time, Myspace provided a new and novel network for people to meet and socialize. Now, Facebook, Instagram, and others have conquered this space, thus rendering MySpace pointless. But, it was first.
Then, there is Skype. Skype has helped revolutionize current-day video conferencing, dating back to 2003. It established what we now take for granted with video chatting, voice calls, and more. Today, people around the globe are connecting via Zoom, WebEx, and FaceTime. But, Skype blazed the path early on.
Finally, before our beloved Google Chrome web browser and others, there was AOL. Launched back in 1983, AOL began life as Control Video Corporation. It provided gamers a way of renting games via connecting their phone lines. An article featured in Fast Company lays out the incredible AOL journey.
From there, AOL transformed into a paid internet access provider. It later changed its name, bought media outlets, and turned its operations. Fast forward to 2015, AOL got purchased by Verizon for $4.4B (yes, with a “B”) in cash. Paving the way to what we now know as our “internet,” AOL was a true pioneer.
Don’t Be Afraid to Be A Pioneer; Someone Has to Be
The definition of pioneer is to develop or be the first to use or apply a new method, area of knowledge, or activity. Pioneering anything can be both daunting and rewarding. And, sometimes, it can end in complete and utter disaster.
Leading the way to something new has its share of obstacles. At times, there may be technologies you need so you can move forward, but it does not yet exist. What do you do? You keep going and find alternatives to make use of so that you don’t stifle your momentum.
To be a leader in today’s fast-moving business landscape requires insight. Understanding how to read the market and reach your audience is critical. New companies understand this and know that time is of the essence. They also know that timing can be the difference between immediate or long-term success.
Being the first to the party may sometimes have unexpected consequences. Arriving too early could result in a lukewarm reception of your idea. Being too late, well, you know the way the story goes. It is all about timing, timing, and timing.
One of the most powerful things that may affect our lives going forward is technology. As it has done in the past, technology has been a critical driving force in shaping the world around us. Though there may be some resistance upfront, over time, most get on board.
Sionic Mobile and Its Pioneering Mission
Our company had a clear vision from the start. It was to develop mobile payments and use the savings from credit card fees to offer rewards. Merchants could use the savings to reward their loyal consumers and keep them coming back.
As a small company, we had to balance resources and opportunities. Creating a loyalty and rewards platform with integrated payments from scratch wasn’t easy. And, this was only the beginning.
Back in 2012, Sionic Mobile was ahead of the game. No other companies were providing mobile payments built around loyalty and rewards. Plus, this digital payment would save card fees for merchants. Keep in mind; this was well ahead of the Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay rise. Even those, today, do not offer all the features we developed. But, I digress.
Creating a suitable, relevant product was important, but a great user experience was as well. The result was ION Rewards®. ION Rewards enabled users to earn rewards on mobile purchases in our Marketplace. They could then use those rewards as cash at any merchant in our Marketplace, in-store or online.
The app has evolved in feature functionality, design, and user experience. The result has been a richer experience for a broader range of consumers and brands.
Along with our pursuit of mobile commerce validation, we collaborated with technology and payment partners. Sionic Mobile was fortunate to have the opportunity to integrate our technology with others.
Testing the Waters of Mobile Loyalty
Big brands for years have tried to achieve the nirvana of this concept. Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) tried and did not succeed. MCX was a company created in 2011 by a consortium of U.S. retailers. Their goal was to develop a merchant-owned mobile payment system called CurrentC.
CurrentC would allow the redemption of offers and promotions during the payments process. In the end, participating merchants would save on credit card interchange fees. This need still exists today, as many retailers are paying too much in interchange fees.
MCX had potential, but the timing was not on its side, as outlined in a Mobile Payments Today commentary:
MCX’s CurrentC showed potential with loyalty-based approach
Then, there was Plenti. Created by American Express in 2015, Plenti Rewards seemed to have a compelling pitch. It enabled consumers to pay at various merchants and earn rewards on those purchases. They could then redeem their rewards on future purchases at those merchants. Is this concept sounding familiar? Does Sionic Mobile’s ION Rewards come to mind?
The caveat with Plenti was that the payments were not digital. You applied, received your Plenti card, and used it at checkout, in-store or online. It was only good at the merchants who participated, such as Macy’s, Exxon, and others.
American Express had the right idea with Plenti and spent a lot of money marketing the program. They shuttered Plenti in 2018. In the end, an antiquated user experience and rewards paradigm doomed Plenti. Consumers needed a more substantive and innovative program. Timing.
The Promised Land: Connected Commerce & Automation
Leading innovators in connected commerce understand that consumers want it all. They want convenience and an integrated shopping experience. One that allows transactions to occur anytime, anywhere, and on any kind of device.
Could this combined experience be the paradise that consumers dream of? Yes.
Remember Webvan? Their 30-minute grocery and delivery concept was notable. Though they did not succeed, the concept was a defining moment for web-based home delivery. An article in TechCrunch outlined the mistakes Webvan made. Also, how a new, similar concept could find future success. Today, InstaCart is the new Webvan 2.0.
In-vehicle connected commerce is a bourgeoning segment, and several automotive OEMs are competing. General Motors’ Marketplace was the first, in-vehicle system enabling purchases from the dash. They highlighted this feat back in a 2017 press release.
Marketplace allowed consumers to connect a branded app to the vehicle dashboard. They could then pay for goods and fuel from their dash via a connected card on file. The original program was later revamped.
Sionic Mobile and other companies partnered with GM to provide digital content integration. Though this was a huge step forward in connected commerce, technology is evolving. Consumer demands have increased, and time has progressed.
Sionic Mobile Believes the Time Is Now
In light of the recent pandemic and likelihood of a change in consumer payment behavior, the time is here. Innovation and pushing the bounds of connected commerce are the way forward.
Consumers are busy and need efficient, real-world solutions in their daily lives. Give them the ability to find and pay for parking, food, and fuel from their vehicle dashboards. Enable these functions from their mobile devices, TVs, or home appliances.
Will “Speak & See” be the way ahead for in-vehicle commerce? We say so. But, to make any of these innovations a reality, a seamless process has to be the only process.
None of us knows what lies ahead. With that said, Sionic Mobile is pledging that our ULink™ technology plays a pivotal role. One that serves not only connected commerce of today, but also tomorrow.
In the end, it’s all about timing.