Invisible payments: finding success in a convenience-driven market
The market for “new” products and services is saturated. Whether it’s a new app, gadget, or a smart device for our homes, consumers are flooded with a wealth of products fighting for the spotlight. This constant stream of “innovation”, and the surplus of choice on offer, can make it difficult for brands to cut through.
On top of that, today’s consumers are “exporting” their expectations. For example, if someone is able to use an app to have granular control over their energy account, they will reasonably expect the same level of service and functionality from their banking or retail app. The mass adoption of sophisticated new technology means consumers are demanding more, and it’s the challenge of innovators to keep abreast of the latest consumer propositions, and in some cases, anticipate what the consumer will demand next.
To succeed, it is crucial for your product to be able to demonstrate tangible benefits for the customer – based on what they really want and need.
Meet the increasingly busy consumer
Modern consumers are busy, so it is perhaps unsurprising that they prioritize efficiency and convenience. People who are on-the-go seek innovations that provide effective solutions to time-consuming tasks. This could partly explain the rise of life-simplifying tools such as “If This, Then That”, also known as IFTTT: a platform that allows users to connect apps, services and devices to each other, to help people to manage their lives.
For example, users can link their phone’s GPS system to an online spread-sheet in order to automatically keep track of how long they spend at a specific location, such as work or the gym. The result is less time spent on mundane chores and more time spent on what each consumer considers important.
Successful innovators provide services that will reduce effort and save time. That is the type of solution that the modern consumer demands – across every sector.
Taking all that into account, there is huge potential for retailers to save consumers time by providing a payments experience that places convenience at the heart of the customer journey. In practice, this means simplifying the purchase journey for consumers and removing traditional barriers and pain points, such as queues, through innovations such as “invisible payments”.
Invisible payments take physical payment methods such as cash, debit and credit cards, and wearables completely out of the equation. Instead, payments are triggered automatically, without the customer having to do anything. For example, when you take an Uber, you store your payment details safely inside the app, and the payment for your journey is taken “invisibly” once you reach your destination, so you can just get out of the car and get on with your day.
Barclaycard trialled this technology in the food and drink sector last year. Hundreds of Barclays colleagues tested our “Grab and Go” solution in canteens across five sites in the UK and US. The technology reduced the average time it took to make a purchase from five minutes to just 27 seconds. Following this success, we created our restaurant solution: Dine & Dash, a first in the UK. “Dine & Dash” enables diners to walk out of a restaurant after eating, bypassing the traditional bill-paying process. The mobile app uses invisible payments technology to process the payment for the meal using the diner’s stored card details, removing the need to ask, wait and pay for the bill.
Across all sectors, businesses need to keep today’s convenience-hungry consumer lifestyle at the heart of their product design, and that certainly extends to financial services. The innovations that become part of our daily lives will be those that solve traditional user pain points and show a real understanding of what actually matters to the consumer.