The world of eScooters – or why payment is “not yet” an infrastructure

The topic “Mobility”, in particular the eScooter, has often been the subject of our discussions as a “payment-related” topic. Coming from theory, now practice: tough reality in the form of a weekend trip to Copenhagen. Two adults, three kids (5,11,14) need mobility when exploring the city.

Copenhagen seems to be far ahead in this respect, and probably also wants to position itself as “modern” and “urban”. Almost liberal (but also something “grotesque” about 1-2 years ago they chased me with Uber out of the city with shame and abuse). Anyway, such an Uber jump would have been interesting as an alternative to the Scooter. Further eBike Share services, however, no chance.Only remaining Bike Share service, the Donkey – but these things look the way they are named now and are already used as spare part supply… A permanent model?

The availability

A thing like that is standing around every corner, the “rental bikes” have all disappeared again, as fast as the Chinese from the old Antonov threw them over the European cities, as fast they seem to have disappeared again. I hope the eScooter boys have learned their lesson. Nevertheless, I wonder why the topic “bike” seems to be “through” already?

Die Welt der eScooter - oder warum Payment “noch” keine Infrastruktur ist / The world of eScooters – or why payment is “not yet” an infrastructure

Many of the routes you do with a scooter are suitable for cycling as well. Especially since the bikes are also cheaper to buy and maintain. The wish of the Scooter Companies to achieve a media-heavy effect (we will replace the car) must first be proven. When speaking about our opinion, we would have done rather some things on foot and used the public transport. Maybe we would have seen less of the city…

For “commuting” these things are still too expensive and, in the end, when you need a scooter one is missing.

But the bottom line is

  1. You immediately need several apps – in Copenhagen Void, Lime and Tier
  2. In the evening it is getting narrow with the locomotion. Allegedly those things are being collected at 9:00 pm (whether it is worth it?)

The scooter

At first sight they all kind of look the same. Supposedly all produced and delivered by the same “Chinese”. In detail the “Tier” is a bit prettier and the “lime” a bit clumsy (which leads to the fact that one or the other curbstone already went nicely into the intervertebral disc when it was lifted). There are two basic models, which differ mainly in the brake. Handbrake (as with the bicycle) or electronic brake in combination with rear wheel foot brake. The latter seems to be the newer model. It might be interesting to see if something is still in the pipeline for younger generations?

Die Welt der eScooter - oder warum Payment “noch” keine Infrastruktur ist / The world of eScooters – or why payment is “not yet” an infrastructure

What I missed: A possibility to attach the mobile phone, because navigation is also necessary here. And the driving comfort on cobblestones, because I felt like I almost dropped my iPhone out of my hand three times.The GPS function is still too inaccurate or the technology itself. At least three times the scooter was not detectable, or we were all blind.

It led to not looking for “App” anymore, but just walking through the street and hoping to find one. Where the “dog is buried here” does not open up but does not interest the customer either.

Interestingly, Lime seems to be paying more attention to the fact that the drivers are 18. Void & Tier lacks the clue. I don’t want to say how relevant the age limit is. In any case, we registered two separate accounts for each of the two kids (11,14). With “Daddy’s CC” this went without problems. First of all – everything else see below.

An interesting value – top speed

a) Lime – 19,1 km/h
b) Void – 20,1 km/h
c) Tier – 20,7 km/h – lives up to its reputation

The tests were all with the same live weight. No cheating. It feels like 20 km/h are enough to get through the city relaxed. The race with the cyclists is at eye level (for the masses). And you feel “somehow safe” even without a helmet.

The app

“Everything in one soup” – VOI and Tier do not differ actually at all. The only nice feature (with all of them) is to take a picture of the place, so that the next customer can find it easier. Sharenow – Hello? Lime is a bit more “mature, you get the impression that you are already 1-2 releases ahead here. (e.g. notifications, invoice by email, real wallet function) etc.

Tier is “very basic” – I already had the feeling that not all functions were unlocked. But there are probably no more.

Interesting here is a function: the “pairing” to connect to the scooter without QR code – simply by approaching. Well thought, in reality the catch is that “Tiere” often appear in groups. Often you stand in front of the wrong one, scan the QR code in parallel and the roller salad is perfect. Voi is “in between” – a simple mixture without being special or striking.

It was noticeable that a lot of scooters were not bookable at that time and this unfortunately was only discovered at the end of the User Journey. Why not immediately? What they all have in common is that it’s Mobile Only. Again, I’m not sure if doesn´t go by the customer. Some functionalities (e.g. user profiles, payment methods etc.) make sense via the web. I don’t want to do everything when I’m standing directly in front of the scooter.

“‘Mobile Only’ could be thought past the customer.”

The booking process

Actually Easy: with the “GPS Tracking Feature as a possible differentiator for the Tier, if it weren’t for the payment… see below

The brands

For me they don’t really matter – it’s a business crying out for consolidation. Only the brand name “Tier” has something “humorous” when the kids walk through town and ask/shout – “there are some animals (Tiere) over there” – but only works in German.

And now to the core topic, the payment. How often have we postulated, the payment disappears, it becomes a commodity, an infrastructure. The user wants to use – not pay. So far so good, the eScooter as a relatively new “industry” offers another practical test. What stands out:

  1. Payment methods – only one (Lime) – offered by Apple Pay (Google Pay could not be checked due to lack of device), Tier and Void content themselves with the good old credit card. Not to mention PayPal (missing “real” CardOnFile/Recurring functionality) not to mention local payment methods (“Wasn’t a quote from the eCommerce world I know “You don’t have to start in Denmark without Dankort”). To be fair, “us” may have been recognized as Germans who, of course, have no Dankort. I have some doubts that it really worked according to this logic. The Chinese are also sought in vain and it gets exciting when they dare to travel alone. I am looking forward to the German launch and the portfolio.
  2. The registration of the payment means: Everything Easy – went fast and uncomplicated, be it Apple Pay or normal CC (test was with Mastercard) here there was no difference in the process with Lime, Void and Tier. Lime offers a kind of “Wallet function” with Top Up so no direct booking through to the payment method. For the end customer no direct advantage, for Lime maybe. (Costs/technologically easier to integrate etc.)
  • 3. The use of the payment means: With the first journey everything ran like sliced bread. After less than 20 minutes 4 accounts with three providers and one payment device (my CC) were up and running. And ourselves on those things on our way to breakfast. So far so good – then the fun begins…
Die Welt der eScooter - oder warum Payment “noch” keine Infrastruktur ist
  • at the end of the day no more bookings went through, the issuing bank declined all transactions – (DKB) – here a clear Apple from me to the various stakeholders
  1. To the Issuer: If you declined for reasons of fraud, please let the end customer know, because you want to protect him in real time and not only after a proactive call from the customer. The customer support was good, but why use the customer as a trigger?
  2. To the eScooter operator: talk to the issuer and monitor the declinerRates for each bank and “push” here because it’s your money!
  3. To the eScooter operator: works on usability and on alternatives!
  4. To the acquirer: work cleanly with the MCC’s to avoid confusing the risk systems. I have the bookings as “transport” as well as “software” or as “general service” in my account. What is a halfway smart risk/fraud system supposed to do with this?
  5. To the Issuer: work on your risk systems! I admit that the fact that the card was used in 4 apps was already “weird”. But with a little effort you could have recognized the pattern. Use your existing communication channel to the customer. Why was there never at least one SMS?
  • after a phone call with the bank the card was unlocked again. Interestingly enough it was further declined “by the Tier”, presumably there is also an internal “risk system” there, because once declined means declined for a longer time.
  • The “rescue” was Boon in combination with Apple Pay (Disclaimer – work at Wirecard)! The same card was used for the Boon TopUp :-) – led then in consequence to 24h use of only Lime – the rest was unfortunately blocked.

What else was there:

Side effect: At Lime my account was managed in CAD, no idea why? The map was also charged in CAD. Here are a few assumptions:

  1. a secret DCC business model
  2. Lime’s eMoney Issuer is Canadian
  3. Implementation error
  4.  Acquirer of Lime has set up a “wrong” business case

I couldn´t go more into detail, but let´s see.., my guess is however solution c), since on the bill, currencies where widely mixed together. What is not an issue for me, however, is not a confidence-building measure for the Joe Sixpack. The confusion between DKB, CAD and EUR in any case led, me to having no idea what the fun cost.

“The confusion between DKB, CAD and EUR led me to having no idea what the fun cost.”

Conclusion:

Especially in a new market with new products that in the end, don´t really differ (and where you have to build trust and USP) the User Journey is the clue because once it’s screwed up it’s hard to win it back. And that’s exactly where payment comes in, because that’s exactly where you have to go in depth. Payment is a core part of your product and an elementary part of value creation. Here you have to be as smart as your service providers, in the best case even smarter. Look at the gaming and gambling industry. The payment managers there are usually smarter than the contact persons of the service providers. That may be sad, but in the end the/your business is more important than a discussion about where which know-how comes from.

I like the scooters themselves and I hope for a different fate than the ones with the bikes and that these “sometime” will be reflected in an all-encompassing mobility vision and not die the “Call a Bike Death” in a big corporation.

Find the complete graphic for download here

Autor
Nicole Nitsche
Nicole Nitsche ist studierte Theaterwissenschaftlerin und hat mehrere Jahre als Regieassistentin beim Thalia Theater Hamburg gearbeitet. Danach war Nicole Leiterin der Presse-und Marketingabteilung eines Hamburger Musiklabels. Zu ihren täglichen Aufgaben zählten dort, neben dem Verfassen von Pressetexten, die Umsetzung und... mehr

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