Can Mobile Payments Fuel Gov2.0?

Mobile payments – the ability to send and receive money from your phone – is a big emerging trend I’ve been watching. It was only a matter of time before someone turned an iPhone into a credit card swiper (see Square) or enabled me to split a check for sushi by paying my friend with Venmo.
Without getting into all of the exciting new companies and trends in this space, the message is clear – there is a market for using your phone to easily transact money. And who loves to transact money more than government?
But let’s face it, while many Gov2.0 initiatives to engage citizens or be more accessible are awesome, they’ve struggled to generate those transactions that make money.
I believe there’s something to the idea that if we can attach services that generate money for government to ones that engage citizens, our odds for success go way up.
Let’s take some low-hanging fruit as an example: parking tickets. Usually when I get a parking ticket I keep it in my car for a few days, then maybe it makes it to my office, then I realize “oh sh*t it was due yesterday” and pay it online. The online system is great, but doesn’t (and really shouldn’t) engage me outside of the payment process.
Putting that same process through my Gov2.0-blender, what if the parking ticket had a link (or, wink, a QR code) right on it to pay it then and there – literally, from my car. Any of the emerging mobile payment companies would be gung-ho to do that for the city. And guess what? After paying the ticket the user can be prompted to bookmark the page (or download an app) full of city news and services.
For example, maybe you’re pissed because the “2 hour parking” sign was bent and that’s why you got the ticket. Well, report it SeeClickFix-style right then and there from the same interface. Or, maybe one block away there’s a city parking space for rent at $50/month. Ding. The phone can point that out. Getting cooler, hey, you’re right next to a polling place. Do you know where yours is for the next election? Let’s find it for you.
All of those ideas alone are awesome, but in reality, a hard sell right now. But hey, go into a meeting with app that shows off the state’s parks and beaches while allowing users to renew fishing/boating/beach licenses and you may have a winner.
My message today is simple – mobile payments may be the way to monetize mobile gov. Can’t wait to hear what you think.
*Disclaimer: I’m friends with the Founder of Venmo but have no financial interest in the company, other than my pictured $19.35 account balance with them 🙂


Website of the Week: Jordan Raynor
OK, so technically it’s the website of a person I met last week at the most awesome GovLoop Tampa GovUp. Jordan has a QR Code on the back of his business card which naturally scored big points with me. More importantly, he’s working on ways to rock the vote by working with Google and Foursquare to finally aggregate where all the polling places are (and reward you with a cool “I Voted” badge). Jordan (@JordanRaynor) is someone to follow in this space.

Read Last Week’s CB2: Bed Bugs Invade DC

About Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett is a self-proclaimed emergency management innovator who is trying to make government better by improving citizen preparedness and crisis communications. He’s a graduate of Wharton with a master’s from Harvard with in “Technology, Innovation, Education.” His portfolio of companies and former projects include OneStorm Hurricane Preparedness, ReadyTown, GovLive, TexasPrepares and America’s Emergency Network. Chris was the recipient of FL Governor Crist’s 2008 Public Information Award. He lives in St. Petersburg, FL, loves to fish, and has been spotted sharing a pint with GovLoop Founder Steve Ressler in Tampa.

What does CB2 Mean? “Chris Bennett’s Crisis Blog.” It was originally CB Squared but the superscript 2 never took, so now we’re rocking the big 2.

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Profile Photo Chris Bennett

Awesome Hillary! Was looking for examples in practice but couldn’t find any, so thanks for sharing. Would be cool to have a short link on a property tax statement that goes directly to this level (link) of the process. Then, when you’re done paying, engage that person in some other way.

Profile Photo Jeremy Greene

Great post Chris. I too am loving the QR Code and looking for ways to leverage it in Govt/Citizen dialog. The money angle is interesting. QR codes are a great way to mesh traditional physical media with dynamic web content (or processes, in the payment example).

For example, what if there was a QR code on literature sent by a govt agency about immunizations. When you scan it you went to the latest news on immunizations published by ALL agencies across government. Much deeper content by meshing the two…

Profile Photo Chris Bennett

Great idea Jeremy. There are so many uses for these codes that I believe will pop up out of nowhere once a major player (like a Facebook or Wal-Mart) starts using hem heavily to make the public aware of what they are.