Challenges facing Paze: Jostling for position in a crowded digital wallet space

  • EWS launched its digital wallet service Paze, earlier this year. But Paze is coming into a space where incumbents have become deeply embedded.
  • What challenges await the new digital wallet service?

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Challenges facing Paze: Jostling for position in a crowded digital wallet space

EWS unveiled its digital wallet service called Paze earlier this year in a move to capture value in a space where fintechs like PayPal and Apple have the upper hand. EWS is also the operator of Zelle, the money transfer system. 

But Paze faces an uphill climb in the digital wallet industry, contending with incumbents that have become deeply rooted within their merchant networks and established a name for themselves with consumers. 

Increasingly, digital wallets are becoming a staple of the payments industry. In 2022, 51% of consumers report using mobile wallets at some point within the last three months according to J.D. Power

Consumer preferences

When it comes to digital wallets, consumers prefer different brands for different use cases. While PayPal is the choice  of 37% for online purchases, Apple Pay is most popular for in-store payments. In Q2 2022, customers spent 3.1 cents of every in-store dollar using Apple Pay -- that tallies up to $199 billion out of $4.9 trillion in total sales at U.S. merchants that accept payments through Apple Pay. 

Despite being in the industry for longer than Apple Pay, Google Pay trails behind in both awareness (53%) and preferences. Only 6% of consumers prefer Google Pay in online transactions and only 7% choose it for in-store purchases. This shows that while being in the payments game for a long time can be beneficial, as in the case of PayPal, it does not guarantee adoption. 

On the other hand, Apple Pay has established itself as a popular choice with both merchants and consumers by using consistent marketing strategies. For example the company first lowered the barrier to entry to Apple Card, becoming an effective marketing strategy for Apple Pay. 

Apple's 'Lose your Wallet' campaign that ran in 2017 for the second time. The campaign came with discounts at 14 merchants.

Jumping over walls low and high

Unlike other digital wallets, consumers will only be able to use Paze if they are a customer at one of Paze's participating banks, though the banks backing Paze expect it to enter with the enrollment of more than 150 million credit cards -- equivalent to the accounts that the banks represent. 

Moreover, Paze will have to build its own merchant network from scratch. Adoption by consumers at the point of purchase may be directly dependent on how many merchants offer the payment option. 

To gauge the competitiveness of the digital wallet sector, observing the recent moves made by Amazon Pay with its integration with Citi Flex Pay can be a good start. Digital wallet providers stay relevant by ensuring their availability at numerous merchants and by offering additional value through features such as BNPL options and flexible payment plans.

All of this, Paze will have to build from the ground up. 

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