What’s the next big payments innovation?

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Every year since 1963, National Small Business Week has recognized the contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. One of the key pillars of recognition is how small businesses are working to drive innovation. Consumer expectations are drastically different today with the need for easy and instant service. The customer experience is a top priority for small businesses – and payments are no exception.

To address the abundance of innovation occurring in the payments industry, we sat down with Chris, vice president of developer integrations at USA Payment Services, to discuss the forward-looking technology small businesses should be thinking about to enhance the customer experience.

Q: What up-and-coming tech trend for small businesses could we see in the next three to five years?

We’re going to see solutions that will have identification checking capabilities. With all of the changes taking place in the payments industry, there is going to be a return to focus on identification awareness. As it pertains to payments, that may mean associating facial recognition with payments methods or consumer IDs. This will allow for safer and more secure payment transactions.

In addition, businesses in certain industries will be able to utilize identification tracking or recognition with a greater consumer experience. For example, a local restaurant that you frequent might be able to know your food, drink and seating preferences. Regardless, payments will trend towards a much more immersive and engaged technological experience.

Q: Given the focus on enhancing the consumer experience, how will beacons and geofencing impact the future of mobile payments adoption for small businesses?

I believe there are a lot of ripe opportunities on the horizon, particularly with geofencing. It’s interesting when I see merchants that are looking at geolocation and wondering how they can apply it to their small business. If you peel back the technical layers for a second, geofencing and beacon technology is first and foremost a glorified billboard – it serves the same purpose. In the event of consumers walking down the street, you want to set up your geolocation so that potential buyers can have either push-note notifications sent to them or they can search and see what’s nearby.

Q: That sounds pretty sophisticated. Do you have any advice for small businesses considering adopting geolocation technology?

If business owners want to be on that geolocation’s radar, they have to put in time or have the right technology in place. Once it is up and running, you need to continually monitor and manage it. You’re either pushing out or changing the sorts of programs that you want consumers to find or be alerted to on their mobile devices. So, there’s definitely a management aspect to geolocation technology that is often overlooked by small business merchants. Lastly, there’s always the need to balance how much money is being returned from geolocation technology versus other rewards or loyalty programs of the same nature. There’s just a lot more variables to consider and manage.

Q: Is there a possibility for small businesses to have a virtual reality presence? How can small businesses take advantage of this technology?

Virtual reality (VR) is the new technology buzzword. With strong predictions of its future adoption, it’s going to be interesting to see how it pans out. All things point towards eCommerce being revolutionized by virtual reality commerce. We are heading toward a time where the concept of 3D commerce becomes much more engaged and puts consumers at the forefront of the eCommerce experience. Smaller businesses – from restaurants to clothing stores – could be driven to start creating virtualized experiences.

I predict that these virtualized experiences, as opposed to looking on a website or watching a product advertisement, will offer a new level of order-now sensation. Consumers’ senses will be heightened and emotions will run high. In the relaxed comfort of their own home buoyed by a breathtaking virtual experience, consumers could be more open to buying now. There are endless applications that we’re going to see over the next 10 years for the eCommerce virtual reality experience.

Q: Which merchants will be the most impacted by this trend or who have more success with VR adoption?

The applications that we’re going to first build will exist on devices. If current mobile trends are anything to go by, the use of mobile-driven VR will take off in industries such as transportation and hospitality. The technology will be more rapidly adopted and used in circumstances such as sitting on an airplane or waiting in a hotel trying to determine where to order your food. With VR technology, you can actually go visit the merchant location and see the actual table, as if you were already there. Consumers may even put your credit card information in ahead of time so you can have a meal paid for quickly and easily.

Q: Small businesses have historically been one of the most attacked segments when it comes to payments. What advice do you have for small businesses to ensure they are keeping themselves and their customers’ information safe as the industry prepares for future changes?

There is, and will continue to be, many changes in the payments industry. While things shake themselves out, the best thing small businesses can do right now, beyond having up-to-date and secure solutions in place, is to go back to the basics – check IDs, look at signatures on the card, set up dashboard cameras, maintain quality receipt management. New technology is exciting, but change and innovation can sometimes take time. So, checking off the basics and making sure invoices, receipts and cameras all correlate to tell a cohesive story will go a long way to ensure safe and secure payments.

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