I will not see that I pay. Future payments will be invisible

If changes in payment methods go as fast as in the last few years, then soon we will not be able to believe that we used to go to a bank, used a plastic credit card and pay for everything using only one official currency.

Until recently, financial operations required a visit to a bank. With the advent of the internet, you could transfer money using a computer connected to the network. Both of these methods, however, meant that the client was heavily involved in the transfer of his funds. Smartphones and widespread mobility have changed that a lot.

The modern user begins to treat payments as an activity performed as if during other activities. You pay when you are walking, traveling by car or at work. The number of operations needed to authorize financial transfers is radically decreasing, and e-commerce entities have a specific interest in this. Amazon, observing the behavior of its customers over the years, decided to introduce one-click payments. It was a reaction to the fact that many purchases were not finalized. The customer accumulated purchases in the basket, but ultimately did not purchase them, because he was required to go through an excessively long data authorization chain. The buyer who is offered the simplified payment model will buy more. This is an obvious factor that influences the involvement of companies in the creation and promotion of ever simpler transaction tools.

The twilight of smartphones ?

Technology speeds up the processes and simplifies them, replacing ineffective tools with those that guarantee greater user convenience. While mobile payments are becoming less complex and tangible, the smartphone may also prove to be a transitional stage in the further evolution of the transaction. One of my texts was devoted to the career of virtual assistants such as Siri, Alexa, Amazon Echo. Their popularity is steadily growing. This means that many companies from various sectors try to adapt voice control to their own products and services. If we consider the thesis that in the future the user’s contact with devices will take place without the use of a traditional interface (keyboard) and headed towards non-contact contact (using voice, face scans), this trend will quickly be reflected in the private finance market.

Looking further ahead, if we manage to breakthrough research, design and build, and then commercialize technology to directly connect the human brain with the machine, only then will we be able to say that we have reduced the user experience to one thought (in this case it is enough think about the payment).

I will not see that I pay

Data about us becomes the fuel for intelligent technologies. Our commitment will not be necessary soon for their effective use. We are moving towards a situation where all our relationships with devices, such as a smartphone, computer, car, are as fast, effective and intelligent as possible, and at the same time not involving our attention.

Based on this regularity, future payments will become "invisible". To carry out them, you will not need devices with an interface or applications that require user activity. Intermediaries and banks may be redundant. The development of the phenomenon will be integral to the spread of the Internet of Things, i.e. a system of interconnected devices that communicate with each other through sensors. This combination means independence and intelligence in data processing. In turn, cloud technology and glocalisation will allow the integration of data from external devices – it can be a store, a car, or devices such as a refrigerator – with the user’s personal data. Also those relating to his finances.

Smart refrigerators, store shelves and the cloud

So let’s imagine a refrigerator that "discovers" by itself the lack of necessary products. The order for them will be placed automatically, the information will be sent to the online store, which will immediately send the products ordered by the refrigerator to me. Payment will be made automatically. It will take place in the background, using the data to which – with my consent – the store will have access. The money (one of the many digital currencies in the future) will be taken from my digital wallet, which will be part of the blockchain-based system.

Conventional authorizations required by banks and intermediaries will no longer be needed in the chain of these operations. If I decide to buy the product in an offline store, the mechanism will be similar. When I pick up the goods from the store shelf, put them in the basket, this will be noted by the store system, sending information about the event to the cloud. This is where the transaction process will be carried out. Automatically, without my knowledge or confirmation. Data about my purchases will be processed by store systems and will go to the cloud not only to collect money from me, but also to prepare a promotional offer for me. An additional witness of all these events may be … a refrigerator, which may want to put in here its three cents, for example by expanding the order with the missing products.

Banks are no longer banks

The way we pay and how we will pay illustrates the scale of change taking place in modern financial markets. So if we consider the development of blockchain technology, the Internet of Things, voice assistants, the emergence of new cryptocurrencies and the plans of corporations that want to issue their own money, we have a full picture of the great disruption of the financial industry.

In order to stay in the market, banks will have to go beyond the role of purely financial institutions offering traditional products such as loans or deposits. In my opinion, they will move faster and faster from financial territory towards the technology sector. Bank as a technology company? Of course. It is already happening.

Corporations build their own accounting systems

We know how much controversy cryptocurrencies are. One of the many accusations that are articulated against them is that the cryptocurrency is a purely technological creation, not covered by external assets or material values. However, this argument is no longer relevant. We are entering the era of currencies created by corporations. The future of the financial market and payments will belong to GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) or any entities that have capital of data on customer behavior.

Facebook is getting closer to introducing Libra , Amazon is planning to launch its own financial and billing platform. In the case of corporations, the currencies issued by them would already be secured and covered by enormous assets, which include terabytes of customer data.

These entities today offer social tools or various consumer goods. If they introduce a currency into their portfolio, the client may start asking questions about the sense of the existence of traditional money and banks.

And you too will be issuing your own currency

It will be possible to create your own money and issue it publicly in terms of technology, form and law. If a given private user comes to the conclusion that his currency (or just a token) has a chance of success in the market, he will simply issue it. If it is successful, its purchasing capacity will grow dynamically. The implementation of such a scenario will of course also affect the transaction processes. Paying with your own money will have a psychological value – the consumer may gain a sense of independence from the financial market. In addition, the more users will use a given currency, the more the user’s billing mechanism will become efficient and simplified – in line with the principle of self-improving systems based on deep learning.

I once wrote that one of the most precious commodities of our time is trust. All the mechanisms that I have described are absolutely possible. However, the element that triggers them is the human decision as to whether to connect to such a system. Producers of goods, service providers, creating their own currencies, will have more and more tools at their disposal to build their own financial ecosystems. The biggest challenge for them may be to convince customers that their solutions are trustworthy. In this case, it is difficult for me to say unequivocally whether consumer confidence will develop in direct proportion to technological development.

Norbert Biedrzycki

Head of Services CEE, Microsoft. He manages Microsoft services in 36 countries, their scope includes business consulting and technology consulting, in particular in such areas as big data and artificial intelligence, business applications, cybersecurity, premium services and cloud. Formerly Vice President Digital McKinsey responsible for the CEE region and services combining strategic consulting and implementation of advanced IT solutions. From comprehensive digital transformation through rapid implementation of business applications, big data solutions and analyzes, business applications of artificial intelligence to blockchain and IoT solutions. Previously, Norbert was the President of the Management Board and CEO of Atos Polska, he was also the head of ABC Data SA and the President of the Management Board and CEO of Sygnity SA. Previously, he also worked at McKinsey as a partner, he was the director of the consulting services and business development department of Oracle.

Norbert’s passion is the latest robotization technologies, applications of artificial intelligence, blockchain, VR and AR, the Internet of Things, and their impact on the economy and society. You can read more about this on Norbert’s blog .

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I will not see that I pay. Future payments will be invisible

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