But the debt remains real...

But the debt remains real…

Researchers at Worldpay are investigating how shoppers can pay using a credit or debit card while remaining within a virtual environment.

As part of its real ambitions, the payments firm has created a proof of concept (PoC), with the aim to provide the “same levels of convenience, and security” that shoppers have in-store and online, without needing to leave the virtual world.

Worldpay’s prototype design uses Host Card Emulation (HCE) to virtualise the purchasing process. The payment process uses EMV technology. For payments under £30, the prototype works in the same way a contactless payment does – with the tap of the (virtual) card across a (virtual) card machine.

For purchases over £30, Worldpay has created a technology called AirPIN. This “first of its kind” allows the consumer to see a range of numbers within the VR environment, and then collect the four numbers that make up their PIN, one by one, using their virtual controller.

Nick Telford-Reed, director of technology innovation, Worldpay, says: “Whatever sales channel, it’s vital to make the payment process both slick and secure for customers. A compelling, immersive and seamless VR experience may even have the capability to increase sales.”

One example of competition for Worldpay comes from last year, when Alibaba revealed a new payment service that lets VR shoppers pay just by nodding their heads. Called VR Pay, it’s been developed by Ant Financial’s (Alibaba’s financial arm) incubator F Lab. Yet another innovation in the lively and overcrowded payments arena.

UK not VR-y interested?

Along with the PoC news, Worldpay took the opportunity to show off some research, “The 360 consumer: how VR is reshaping the buying experience”, which revealed the UK is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to mass market acceptance of this technology.

It says 5% of UK shoppers surveyed have used VR technology in a retail setting, and just 35% of respondents would even consider buying a product using a VR or augmented reality (AR) device. Consumers in Brazil and China were more than twice as likely to shop within a VR world as UK-based shoppers.

The cost of VR technology is one of the biggest barriers to adoption for two thirds of those surveyed. However, security is also a key issue, with 43% of consumers concerned with the level of security offered within a virtual environment.

Nevertheless, nearly one third of Brits believe that VR is the future of shopping, and 58% of respondents expressed interest in the broader used of the technology in retail, for example trying on an item of clothing in a virtual store. Confident that VR will live up to the hype, 40% of respondents believe that VR technology will become as popular as smartphones.

The research was conducted by Opinium in March 2017 and it interviewed 16,000 consumers who have heard about VR or AR in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, US and UK