In part III of our Payments Predictions Series, we focus on technologies that are currently reinventing the commerce and payments landscape: blockchain and robotics. Make sure you don’t miss the first article of this series, focused on market consolidation and regulation.
Known under the name of “New Internet”, blockchain is set to revolutionize the way payment providers operate and process transactions. The biggest investments in this technology have been made in the past couple of years by banks, generated by an urgent need for transparency within the market and more efficient operating systems. Blockchain technology introduced a new level of transparency, which both banks and consumers see as part of a better efficiency. We expect the first implementations to happen in the near future, soon followed by the masses.
In the payments industry, blockchain technology is promising for creating scalable, better secured wallets. The main benefits of this trending technology are the transparency and traceability of transaction flow, and the affordability compared to other pricy processes.
Among trending technologies, robotics or artificial intelligence has brought a new concept into the commerce landscape, namely Conversational Commerce. With this new feature, consumers benefit from upgraded and personalized shopping journeys with the help of automated conversations with message bots. Retailers are heavily investing in improving these chatbots so that they seem as close as human interactions as possible. It will be interesting to see whether human interaction is actually replaceable. Consumers might miss the real human interaction while doing their shopping; research has shown that contrary to their tech-savvy nature, millennials and generation Z prefer face-to-face interaction as much as digital, which proves that consumers might not be ready to give up shopping in store altogether. However, they are used to speaking naturally, unlike automated chatbot language. For this reason, consumers might struggle to get used to a simplified computer language when shopping or reject this new type of interaction altogether, sensing that their privacy is being invaded. Therefore, it is still in question whether message bots will become consumers’ best friends or not.
We need to highlight another great challenge of conversational commerce, namely payments security; enabling payments in a secure setting. This is difficult to achieve within an app environment. Just as retailers are working on message bots to sound as natural and human as possible, payments operators are working hard towards achieving this privacy feature. Once this issue is solved, we expect a new level of shopping experience both from a commerce and payment perspective.
On the other hand, when talking about robotics, Artificial Intelligence is used as self-service as well. Amazon Go is a great example of how all sensor-based machine learning can automate and completely optimize a shopping experience without any human interaction. Combining computer vision, artificial intelligence and machine learning, Amazon managed to offer consumers a shopping journey with the most seamless checkout by completely taking away registers and lines. We predict this will shortly become a large trend. However, it might become important to link these self-service experiences to message bots for consumers expecting some level of interaction during their shopping sessions. This is a depiction of what the future could look like and we as ecommerce service providers must find a way to include it within our own solutions.
In a nutshell, technologies such as blockchain and robotics are definitely here to stay and will transform the traditional commerce and payments practices. We are curious and excited to see what other trends pop up this year. Don’t miss our next video report of the 2017 Payments Predictions Series, which will take a close look at the results and achievements Acapture and Payvision registered last year, as well as what we are focused on in 2017.