Internet of Business talks payments with Jonathan Vaux, executive director of engagement at the Visa Innovation Center London.
In February this year, Visa announced the launch of its Visa Innovation Center London, located at its European headquarters at Paddington Basin.
The space covers over 1,000 square meters, making it the largest in Visa’s global network of innovation centers, and provides what the payments company terms an “immersive environment”, where it works side-by-side with partners from financial institutions, merchants and other organizations to develop the next generation of payment solutions.
A good deal of that work focuses on figuring out how customers will want to pay for the goods and services they purchase in future and the experience that they will expect, says Jonathan Vaux, the Center’s executive director of engagement.
Some of the space at the Center features practical demonstrations, including applications of the IoT in connected car and smart home environments – because increasingly, consumers will expect to pay for insurance directly from their car or for theater tickets directly from the smart speakers in their living room. There’s also a huge focus on wearables, Vaux adds, because familiar objects we carry or wear all the time will increasingly becoming our go-to option for payment when standing at the checkout, whether that’s a smart watch or even a piece of connected jewellery.
Says Vaux: “What we’re quickly finding is that, if the experience is better and customers are confident of security, they’re more than happy to use new methods. So, for us, it’s about answering two questions: Does this feel easy? And does it feel safe?”
Key to all this is the Visa Ready program, which is designed to accelerate the introduction of innovative payment solutions globally – and further encourage the global move from cash to electronic payments that is already underway.
The Visa Ready Partner Program, according to the company, “paves the way for mobile device manufacturers, technology partners, mobile network operators and others to easily navigate the complexities of the payments ecosystem and gain access to Visa’s intellectual property, licenses and best practices.”
In other words, it’s about helping third parties to build next-generation products that include a token that represents the customer’s payment card and to certify these products to show that they “consistently and robustly” meet Visa’s payment and security standards, says Vaux. As part of the Visa Ready program, these devices get a ‘seal of approval’ from Visa that the company hopes will set innovative new payment devices on a fast track to widespread acceptance.
“Looking forwards, consumers will have an increasing number of options in how they want to pay – and their payment behavior will depend on context and on the purchasing situation. It’ll be about what they’re paying for, where they’re paying for it, the sums involved,” he says. Over time, he adds, consumers will be able to apply particular permissions to the devices they own, in terms of what kind of payments they can make from a particular gadget.
All this makes his work fascinating, Vaux adds, because human beings are complicated and their willingness to change is often influenced by their individual habits and motivations – but what we all generally want with payments, he says, still comes down to convenience and security.
“I sometimes say that the best shopping is like shoplifting: you don’t even know you’ve paid,” Vaux jokes. “I say it flippantly, of course, but that’s the way the world is going. When you get out of an Uber cab, you’ve already paid on the app. Amazon Go buttons make payments almost invisible, too. But if you know those payments are safe, you’ve got the confidence to go ahead.”