There’s more to mobile wallets than just payments. According to new research from Forrester, the real power of mobile wallets is in generating powerful customer engagement opportunities.

The report, Engage customers with mobile wallet marketing, argues the marketing potential for mobile wallets has not yet been fully uncovered.

Rather than hoping customers download their brands’ mobile apps (and continue to reopen them), the opportunity for B2C marketers is to use mobile wallets as real estate to engage with customers.

“In the crowded mobile app market, marketers need to smartly leverage the mobile ecosystem to borrow mobile moments from the popular apps that their customers already use every day, including mobile wallets,” the authors write.

To understand where the market is headed, marketers should look to China’s mobile wallet pioneers, Alipay and WeChat, which have morphed into rich customer engagement platforms with features that span the entire customer lifecycle.

Forrester Mobile wallet

For example, in addition to regular coupons and display ads, both Alipay and WeChat have invented new formats, like Alipay’s AR red packets that allows marketers to hide red packets in an offline store for consumers to find, the authors write.

Chinese mobile wallets add valuable features to offline services such as food and ride ordering. Both Alipay and WeChat have integrated third-party services like Didi and Uber for ride hailing and Dianping and Meituan for food delivery.

WeChat combines the features of Uber, Instagram, Amazon, Skype, and Venmo into one mobile platform. This interactive from L2 shows how WeChat is used, and how brands can benefit from the platform.

Forrester expects other third-party players like Apple and PayPal to expand their mobile wallets to become more like WeChat and Alipay, but are unlikely to find themselves competing directly with the Chinese app giants.

“Market-entry obstacles like different business cultures, consumer behaviours, and regulations make it unlikely that Alipay and WeChat will operate directly in other markets beyond targeting Chinese travelers. However, the successful marketing use cases developed on Alipay and WeChat Wallet will inspire third-party players like Apple and PayPal to morph their mobile wallets into more powerful customer engagement platforms,” report author and Forrester analyst Xiaofeng Wang writes in a blog post on the topic.

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