Making mobile payments effortless

Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones, making payments on the go has become second nature to consumers who order things through apps or mobile websites, or those who pay for services such as Uber.

But for mobile payments to truly take off, the payment process must be so seamless that it barely takes the consumer any effort to pay for something through an app.This is the goal of Braintree, an electronic payments firm that operates the background payment options for big guns in the consumer app and website arena. Its clients include Uber, AirBnB and Github.

Braintree, started in the United States in 2007 by a team of engineers, opened officially in Singapore in March.

Its general manager for mobile, Mr Aunkur Arya, said creating a seamless payment experience for the consumer was crucial to ensuring that customers enjoy the app or website and will come back to use it.

He said: "If you're a commerce company and you're not reaching customers on mobile, you're at a disadvantage."

According to a study by PayPal, Braintree's parent company, mobile payments are expected to grow 42 per cent between 2013 and 2016 - three times higher than the 13 per cent for e-commerce.

PayPal acquired Braintree in 2013 for $800 million. It more than doubled its authorised payment volume last year to US$22.8 billion (S$30.5 billion) from 2013.

Mobile purchases now account for 20 per cent of PayPal's overall purchase volume worldwide, a huge jump from only 1 per cent in 2010.

"The market is ripe for start-ups who are grasping that real-time mobile payment services are what's going to drive commerce for the next several years," said Mr Arya.

Small and medium-sized enterprises here that want to take advantage of this growth have, in the past, found themselves handicapped by poor mobile payment integration.

One such company is Sugar, a deal discovery and city explorer app, one of the first local companies to sign up with Braintree.

Its chief product officer and creative director Stephen Barling told Digital Life: "Previous solutions for mobile payments were retrofitted from Web, at best, to mobile. It worked, but not well enough for a user to go, 'Oh, that's very slick, that's very smooth'. What Braintree gives people in Singapore is the same quality and smoothness of payments that users expect globally, now in Singapore for Singapore businesses."

Braintree also helps merchants consolidate fragmented payment options, as it accepts credit cards, PayPal, digital wallets such as Apple Pay and even Bitcoin.

For local food-delivery website Grain, another one of Braintree's first merchants in Singapore, outsourcing their payment service let them focus on their core business and also provided data on their sales and payment, which is a boon for them.

Grain's co-founder, Mr Ernest Sim, said it had found that the advantages were "the consistent user interface and the integration with backend - how we track the metrics, track transactions, order confirmations and follow up on analytics".