Why Periscope Changes the Future of Mobile Payments

March 30, 2015         By: Michael Foster

It’s been a busy past couple weeks in the world of hype. First Meerkat became a fiendishly popular phenomenon at SXSW, and then pundits salivated at pixels when the same startup brought an East Village tragedy to everyone’s smartphones in real time. It seemed that the Next Big Thing was here: live streaming through social media was going to change media forever.

Then, just as predictably, the critics showed up. Some insisted these apps aren’t changing the news, while others mocked the hype-for-hype’s sake blogosphere for jumping on top of each other to praise the services. The saner critics pointed out that live streaming isn’t really new, and having the function in a smartphone will be handy, but is by no means a game changer.

Whether you think it’s hype or a paradigm shift, the Meerkat/Periscope phenomenon is worth paying attention to because it opens up a new communication channel, and that will matter to content producers and marketers.

In other words, anyone who is trying to make a living on the burgeoning mobile commerce marketplace needs to consider what this service means for them. So far, there are three clear issues to consider.



After piquing venture capitalists’, bloggers’, users’, and social media celebs’ interests with its streaming service, Meerkat was shut down by Twitter, rendering it about as useful as a hot dog recipe at a vegan MeetUp. Instead, they released their own version: Periscope. This tells us that any service that depends on another service needs to be discounted for the risk of the bigger, more important service simply shutting them down. It also tells us Twitter is much bigger and powerful than many had previously considered.



If you go on Periscope today, you’ll probably see some bored people hanging out and saying something like, “I’m just testing this out—it’s pretty cool.” The tool is here but a lot of people don’t know how to use it. Some, however, are already busy trying to figure out how to make it work. And profitable use cases, some of which are adult oriented, are already being leveraged. Live streaming, like Tweets, status updates, and web pages before them, will be used by some people to make money. Those who know how to incorporate it with their existing operations will make a lot of money.



Kind of like #thedress, the intensity and speed with which these apps generated buzz was incredible. There is a lesson here for anyone on the Internet: the right thing at the right time markets itself. But it also suggests that the Internet remains a hit-driven medium. While there are some sustainable, slow-growing phenomena that can last for years—PewDiePie, Minecraft, social media—the vast majority of the Internet is still hit-driven, prone to spikes and troughs. This is especially true of content producers, and less so with content platforms.

What does this mean for mobile payments? It means you need to consider what platforms you are exposed to and dependent on, what new methods of communication are used in marketing efforts, and how making a useful and sustainable business can help you benefit from the hit-driven Internet economy without suffering from it. No matter where you are in the online ecosystem, these live streaming apps are a game changer whether they last or not.