The digital revolution is, without doubt, driving huge changes in consumer behaviour and given the development of e-commerce and m-commerce, electronic payments will continue to accelerate. New players in the industry such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Xiaomi (BATX) and more recently Facebook, have emerged to offer innovative solutions, change the environment and challenge the existing operator network.
According to the World Payments Report 2018, the total number of electronic transactions in the European Union is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.7% between 2016 and 2021. In Europe, although it is a mature market, the rise in the CAGR is estimated to be 6.8%.
So what’s next?
A major trend in contextual commerce is the increase in conversational commerce – payments initiated on social networks, chat-bots or voice technology such as Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. With chat-bots and voice assistants linking messaging applications to commerce, a growing number of consumers are already using these services to find and choose products and services and then pay for them. Ovums predicts that in 2020, 80% of brands will be using chat-bots to interact with their customers.
Relying on fast-developing technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing, voice robots are becoming the new way of connecting customers with merchants. With the introduction of biometric voice recognition and authentication, voice is set to become increasingly important in e-commerce.
Technologies that were formerly in the realms of science fiction will become science fact as consumers change the way they make payments – from biometrics to Blockchain to the Internet of Things (IoT). The current revolution in payments is still focused primarily on human interaction. We at Worldline believe that the natural next step in the development of real-time payments will be the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
In the medium term, we see the current payments framework being expanded to include connected devices, allowing them to access consumers’ bank accounts. This will, of course, require the consumer’s permission, but essentially the transaction takes place without human intervention as the payment will be triggered either by a device or by an AI software module.
Tomorrow’s solutions today
Many businesses – including Worldline – are working with technology companies, universities and start-ups to ensure the security of financial data in the connected world of tomorrow. Today we require very strict regulation and further development of innovations in authentication and intelligent verification to ensure customers a high level of satisfaction, security and shopping experience.
Digital banking assistants and conversational experience
Digital banking assistants will allow end-users to access their bank details quickly and from any location. This technology will allow customers to communicate directly with their bank through an integrated chat system and/or chat-bot via mobile apps, social networks and smart speakers. They will also be able to make an appointment with their bank manager, undertake bank transfers and, if needed, block their credit card and quickly and configure a new (digital) card via a mobile app. With this technology, customers will need only one contact for all their bank interaction and can call customer service any-time, anywhere, provided they have a smartphone with them.
Worldline is currently testing a personal assistant to help educate children about the value of money and allow them to receive their pocket money electronically rather than in cash.
On the move – Car parks and public transport
In future, anyone using a car park will no longer need to take a ticket or queue to pay; drivers will be able to simply link their bank details and car registration to their mobility account and smart number plate recognition and smart payment terminals will do the rest. Parking charges will be automatically debited from their account as they exit.
Also, commuters and travellers will soon be able to book car parking and public transport tickets from their car using Google Assistant. Drivers can verbally ask the AI virtual assistant to contact parking reservation services such as SpotHero, which has already been fully rolled out in America. For both services, commuters pay only a single bill via Google Pay with their smartphone.
eParking and other mobility solutions free consumers from undertaking repetitive and mundane tasks. They facilitate both private and public transport to help change travel patterns in major cities. “Mobility as a service” also makes payment transactions more secure, more efficient and more transparent.
Shopping – Digital data transmission by invisible light
Invisible light communication is a new technology that can send digital (payment) information by light waves to a smartphone. In practice, consumers can buy the products shown on an electronic billboard by simply pointing their smartphone camera at the board, even from a distance. The mobile app on the smartphone decodes the transaction and customers only have to authenticate their payment with a PIN or fingerprint.
Customers will no longer have to queue at the check-out; they simply scan their chosen items using their smartphone without the need to download an app as the scan uses a no-app eXperience. When they have finished shopping they have two options – they can pay using their mobile via their registered wallet or at a payment terminal. Once the payment is made customers receive a receipt for their shopping on their mobile – This is as easy as taking a picture.
At Worldline, we have been focusing on building more interactive store payment devices that are user-friendly, equipped with portable multifunctional interaction platform that can be used by consumers and retailers at the same time. Our latest innovation, YUMI, can also help the visually impaired and the blind to pay independently in shops. Thanks to a revolutionary update, visually impaired people will soon be able to pay safely with their own smartphone with the help of voice guidance.
This is an example of how technology is there to simplify people’s lives. In the near future, payment technologies like YUMI will allow us to facilitate the lives of the visually impaired in any payment situation.
At the cinema – Pay by robot
Consumers want to be served more quickly and efficiently, both in retail and in public places where staff can sometimes be overwhelmed, such as shopping centres and airports. The technology built into robots helps to shorten queues and give customers information or a ticket more quickly.
For example, the Heasy robot is an interactive concept with Worldline’s built-in VALINA payment terminal that can help customers in busy locations, such as cinemas, to choose a film, find their theatre and pay for their cinema ticket electronically.
These are just some examples of how the payment industry is experiencing a profound transformation, and continuous improvement of the payment system and customer experience is required at all times. In particular, the recently announced Facebook Libra initiative illustrates clearly that we are at the centre of a period of immense technology-driven innovation. In order to remain relevant and competitive in the new digital world, all players – banks, payments companies, retailers, etc. – must ensure that they focus on adapting and improving their propositions, both individually as collectively as an industry.