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Among the numerous experiences that are uniquely human, the concept of exchanging one object for another to denote the exchange of value is definitely one that stands out. The act of “paying” — in the form of barter since time immemorial, followed by the use of currency during the past few millennia, has remained largely unchanged. However, with digital payments on the rise and rapid innovation supporting its growth at every step, we are at the precipice of the next revolution in payments. As Alan Kay rightly put it, the best way to predict future is to invent it. Given the exponential acceleration of the technological underpinnings of every fundamental human experience, we can certainly expect significant changes that will transform the world along the way.
Imagine an immersive experience where you watch a movie and love the outfits/jewelry worn by the actors. You feel an urge to buy these clothes/accessories immediately and sport the ‘trendy’ look! Or you may have fallen in love with the exotic locales in which the movie was shot and dream of visiting these places during your next vacation! What if it were possible to immediately act on the impulse — in context, in real time? A new world awaits where consumers and brands interact virtually through the merger of technology with content and context.
A fair share of convenience coming your way! Yes, you may no longer have to worry about your printer running low on toner. Your printer would be able to replenish itself by being able to detect that it is running out of ink and purchase the ink cartridges automatically. The gadget would be able to purchase the toner by connecting itself to a payments system. Innovations like smart refrigerators will be a part of every household, which will be able to auto-detect low stock and re-up on supplies!
There will be more mainstream adoption of Virtual and Augmented reality experiences. Technology has nearly evolved to a point where transactions can happen with a mere nod of a head, blink of an eye or through the detection of emotions. What seems like science fiction today, will be ubiquitous ho-hum taken-for-granted reality in the not-too-distant future.
Contactless payments will foray into the commerce landscape, factoring all requisites needed to carry out secure transactions. You will be able to make purchases without even having to pull your gadgets out — hands-free connectivity coupled with seamless identification and biometrics-based authentication/authorization will make it all possible!
Digital money will continue to make cash obsolete. Traction for digital transactions will continue to snowball and regulations will continue to foster and facilitate the acceleration of adoption of digital payment systems.
Today, when one thinks of wallets, we think of either physical wallets or the mobile wallet on our smartphones. In the future, the digital wallet need not necessarily be in your cellphone. Multiple avatars of digital wallet may exist — for example, in your key chain.
Technology will obliterate this particularly odious productivity killer that is unfortunately the norm in today’s human experience — waiting in long queues to pay and procure what you need/want. In all stores, customers will be able to order ahead, make a payment and check out. The order will be ready and can be picked up without signing and standing in long queues. In fact, this technology already exists TODAY — in the US, PayPal* customers can order ahead at merchants like Starbucks and then just go pick up the order as they reach the store.
Speeding up services that customers expect, Quick Service Restaurants will get quicker! Wouldn’t we love it if we could walk out of a restaurant, just as we step out of cabs nowadays rather than asking for the bill, waiting for the waiter to bring the bill, send the card, punch in the pin if necessary, and finally, sign the receipt? Our experience can be about the dining and not about ‘waiting’!
When you are seated in your fully automated driverless car, you will certainly have time to do something productive. The car will become a platform to do many things at once — you will have internet connectivity and with navigation systems, the car knows where you are going. For example, if you are going to a mall, your car can probably connect to the internet to detect which stores are offering special deals. It might even suggest optimized routes to visit specific stores to buy items on your shopping list.
All small businesses and vendors will uncover the potential for internet and mobile to transform business and will embrace the power of digital transformation. Digital payment systems will help micro businesses operate and manage their money better. For them, getting secure and seamless access to their own money will be a game-changer. This trend will also be a boost for the worthy cause of financial inclusion!