CARTES: Gazing into the Payments Crystal Ball
The rate of technological advancement in payments over the past 40 years has been staggering, from the zip-zap machines of yesteryear to the smartphone-based mobile wallets of today. And with the pace of innovation only getting faster, payment providers should avoid being confined by current technical limitations and instead focus on identifying ways to meet consumer needs, while cultivating a sense of exploration and imagination to push the boundaries further.
Those were among the key themes set forth by Peter Turner, CEO of payment services provider CreditCall, in a presentation last week at the CARTES Secure Connexions America conference in Las Vegas. In his talk, entitled “The Payments Crystal Ball,” Turner stressed that payment providers should not get bogged down by existing technological limitations, which will inevitably fade with the march of innovation.
“Do not get constrained by the technology,” he said. “If it can’t do what you want to do today, it will be able to do it tomorrow.” To illustrate the scale of advancement, Turner noted that the first home modems offered speeds of 300 bits of data per second. Now, smartphones are able to achieve 150 megabits per second—or half a million times faster.
|“You’ve got to have a willingness to experiment. And what you do with the results of that experiment is crucial.”
—Peter Turner, CEO, CreditCall
Those massive gains in bandwidth will continue, Turner said, enabling communication—including payments—to enter areas that previously seemed like science fiction. “The whole world of communications is going to change,” he said. “That matters in terms of the way we address things like Internet shopping and the way we handle transactions. Payments will evolve in a way we haven’t even thought of yet.”
Stranger than Fiction
Possible innovations that could alter the payments landscape include 3-D communication, retina projection technology and ways to incorporate touch and smell into the digital shopping experience. Big data also will present alternative methods of identification and authentication—previously the domain of payment cards and PINs. “You might be able to stand next to somebody and blink the right way at them, and you’ll transfer funds.” While blink-to-pay might be quite a few years off, there are many biometric applications already entering the market that can authenticate a user via fingerprint, voice or facial recognition.
Future advances will require fearless experimentation, according to Turner, who cited author and inventor Edward de Bono’s maxim if you can’t see where you want to get to from where you are, go somewhere else. “You’ve got to have a willingness to experiment. And what you do with the results of that experiment is crucial,” he said. Luckily for payment providers, younger consumers, including millennials, are open to experimentation with new technologies—having been brought up as a “digital species”—and are much more fluent and intuitive with new technology than previous generations. “As we’re thinking of new ideas, it’s not what we as the current generation think of it; it’s what our children and their peers will think of it.”
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