Cashless & Mobile Payments

A Cashless Society Enabled by Smart Technology

August 28, 2017 | By Guest Perspective

A Cashless Society Enabled by Smart Technology

Today’s post is by guest blogger, Beth Kotz.

A new wave of digital disruption has generated momentous progress in payment technology. While the concept of a“cashless” society has generated a lot of buzz in recent years, we’re now seeing numerous platforms deliver secure contactless payment transactions – giving rise to an “Internet of Payment Things.”   

It may not be time to give up cold, hard cash just yet, but with a variety of unconventional payment options already on the market and more to come in the near future, businesses are increasingly interested in tapping into the potential of alternative payment platforms.

To get a better understanding of why businesses and consumers alike are abuzz about cashless, contactless payment options, let’s take a look at a few emerging technologies and the advantages – and disadvantages – they have to offer.

Wearable Tech

Watches that can complete in-store transactions in seconds with a tap of the wrist. Shoes that can order their own replacements once they’ve suffered too much wear and tear. The possibilities afforded by wearable technology are virtually limitless, making it a major piece of the cashless puzzle. Wearable tech combines unmatched convenience and accessibility with the ability to collect and use a tremendous variety of sensor data, providing fertile ground for innovative businesses to create more sales opportunities and engage with customers in new and exciting ways.

However, wearable tech payments have  yet to gain widespread traction. These payment technologies are not yet widely accepted, and some consumers simply feel no need to use wearables in place of traditional cash or cards. Businesses will have to find creative ways to make wearable payments more appealing and beneficial to consumers before the tech can really catch on.

Cashless Cars

A vehicle may seem an odd stand-in for a wallet, but the idea of transforming cars into cashless payment platforms isn’t as crazy as it might sound. From gas stations to parking garages and road tolls, in-car cashless payment technology offers many convenient uses. As the technology evolves, so too will its possibilities. In the near future, vehicles may be able to detect faulty components, order replacements and schedule maintenance appointments with little input needed. The tech integrates well with existing in-car infotainment systems, and forward-thinking businesses will be able to leverage it in all manner of creative and convenient ways. The primary hurdle at the moment is exclusivity, as in-car payment platforms are typically expensive and limited to higher-end vehicle models.

Digital Assistants

Digital voice assistants – Alexa and her cohorts – have e-commerce capabilities baked-in. With Alexa, making a “voice purchase request” is as simple as placing an order on the phone. Google’s Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana, also support payments. These smart home controllers are able to collect vast stores of data on browsing and shopping habits, product preferences and much more, providing new tools for businesses to identify and target customers. They also open up new possibilities in the realm of the connected “smart home.” Using Amazon Dash, smart appliances can automatically replenish corresponding household items when supplies are low (for example, new Whirlpool dishwashers and dryers can automatically order your preferred dish soap or detergent).

Virtual Reality

Though e-commerce has exploded in recent years, it still faces one major problem: conversion. Only two to four percent of browsers actually make purchases, which falls far short of traditional retail conversion rates. One potential solution is virtual reality, which can be used to create a virtual stand-in for the traditional in-store shopping experience. Combine this with the ability to pay without leaving the VR space – such as with Alibaba’s VR Pay system, which will allow shoppers to make purchases simply by nodding – and businesses can bring a complete shopping experience to customers without the need for an actual brick-and-mortar presence. The technology is still very new and in need of further development, but it paves the way for businesses to create all new immersive shopping experiences.

Banking with Bluetooth

It’s been a good year for Bluetooth. Reducing friction at the point of sale is a serious boon to businesses as well as customers, and since Bluetooth is already a mature and widely used technology, it faces fewer hurdles than other unconventional payment channels. The wireless connectivity standard has been around for years, but with tech titans like Apple and PayPal exploring new ways to use the technology, it appears set to become a major force in the cashless payment space.

Breakthrough technologies and a wider adoption of different digital channels are changing the payment process and pushing us ever closer to a truly cashless society. In both business and consumer markets, it’s important to think about what a future of greater cashless commerce may hold.

559520_1767301903269_1946830701_n (2)Beth Kotz is a freelance finance and tech writer with a strong interest in artificial intelligence and its vast potential for society. A graduate of DePaul University, she is currently based out of Chicago, Ill. You can  visit her website here.

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