The Benefits and Risks of Emojis in Payments 💸

March 14, 2018

Author: Chris Martin

You and a friend are heading to the cinema, but your friend finds that he doesn’t have enough cash for the ticket and forgot his wallet. You pay for his ticket, which he promises to pay you back for in a few days.

Two weeks later and your friend still hasn’t paid you back. What now?

It’s a bit awkward to suddenly turn your friendship into a loan servicer-debtor situation. Many people would want to avoid turning their relationship sour by essentially engaging in straightforward collections with a friend. (ie., “Hey, about that money you owe me…”). Sending a friendly picture to jolt their memory and allow them to pay you instantly turns a potentially awkward situation into a fun social interaction.

Companies like Zelle, Square, Venmo, and Facebook have all earned popularity based on the use of emojis in the transaction experience. For example, Venmo reports that its average user checks it two or three times per week, often just to see what their friends are up to.

While emojis have rapidly gained steam in recent years as a quirky shortcut and supplement to texting on smartphones, they’ve now become ubiquitous across nearly every communications platform.

Now emojis are also found in frequent business use in industries including marketing, advertising, content in films and on apps, and even as part of website URLs.

Why Platforms Benefit From Emojis 😍

What makes emojis transformative and value adding for businesses is two-fold:

First, emojis are essentially a modern hieroglyphic. Emojis allow ideas, messages, and feelings to be conveyed through a representative and easily understood picture. Especially for commonly used phrases or types of communication, such as acknowledgments or reminders, they allow people to engage in time saving shorthand that skips what otherwise might be needless repetition.

Second, emojis humanize and can greatly add to our communications. By supplementing, or even replacing, mere text with additional faces, expressions, and symbols, emojis allow our messages to build a more complete picture of the ideas, thoughts, and feelings involved.

It is only fitting that they’ve now have begun to be used for distinct user interface functions in the payments industry.

Emoji-based payment transactions are not only useful for individuals seeking to increase collections efficiency from covering for their friends after a night out, but also can be useful for business-to-consumer and B2B purposes as well.

For businesses that want to increase user interest in their payment platform or service, emojis are certainly one way to do it.

By providing users with a sleek and modern user interface system, businesses may be able to better facilitate user understanding of their payment products and obligations, as well as increase interest, use, and volume in user-to-user, business-to-user, and B2B transactions.

Emoji Risks 🙅🏽‍♀️

However, emojis certainly come with risks as well.

1. There is no “universal emoji language” or set of common emoji definitions, which makes miscommunication a worry. Also, the lack of standardization might create internal complications for payment providers seeking to translate emoji-information across their accounting and risk-management systems.

With more emojis being created by the day, undoubtedly the communications entanglement may eventually become problematic despite the growing business opportunity.

2. Furthermore, emojis also have not been universally adopted. While many people, ranging from Millennials to baby boomers, greatly enjoy using emojis, not everyone is onboard with this trend. Perhaps as time goes on even more users will adopt emojis, but at the moment many users may still favor a platform or service not exclusively oriented around them.

Nonetheless, emojis are a rapidly growing social trend that looks to have sticking power. Businesses across a variety of industries are already integrating emojis into their platforms and seeing significant boosts in activity and revenue.

With the payments industry a natural fit for emoji-use, undoubtedly we shall see more payments services exploring how to use emojis to boost their customer lists, user activity, transactions volume, and payments efficiency.


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