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Invisible payments will open the door to mobile

Invisible payments will open the door to mobile

Eric van Vuuren

Consultant Strategy & Analyses

17 March 2017

Invisible payments will open the door to mobile


Invisible payments are the answer to several mobile payment adoption problems. At least: that is what the cloud infrastructure company i2c says. Amazon is putting this theory into practice. Customers of the Amazon GO store just have to put their products in their basket and leave the store whenever they have everything they need. The payment is done automatically when the customer leaves the shop. This payment method is also known as invisible payments.

Goodbye checkout line

While a lot of parties are developing mobile payment technologies, the i2c report shows that none of the new tools or applications really reaches the state of adoption. The current line of developments is not addressing a big frustration of the customer, which is the checkout line in stores. It is nice to have an extra payment option with mobile payments, but it does not shorten the checkout line. And that is why mobile payments adoption falls short; it is not a solution, but an extra option. Invisible payments can bridge the gap between these developments and the consumer.

Invisible payments tackle this problem. Amazon opened the first GO store last December in Seattle and there are more GO stores coming. The first one, a grocery store, is a great showcase of invisible payments. It does not hold up customers at a physical checkout, but it scans the groceries in the customer’s basket and processes the payment when the customer leaves the store. Customers can say goodbye to the frustrating checkout line.

The bigger picture

i2c states that most mobile payment services focused primarily on the payment mechanism, but that the consumer needs more than ‘just a new way to pay’. But that does not mean that those developers should retreat. They should focus on the bigger picture: the customer experience. “In a way, invisible payments can make payments a more integrated, intuitive part of the user experience. The best user experience removes as many pain points as possible no matter the location of the user or the brand they are interacting with,” said Chris Francis, Vice President of Market Development at WorldPay.

While the invisible payment adds speed and simplicity to the customer experience, other tools or applications can address other customer needs. According to i2c, you can split this process out into two categories: pre-payment and post-payment. Before the payment, a customer wants as much information as possible. They want a quick way to compare prices and find pricing information, but they want to have quick access to product reviews as well. The customer experience can improve when the new technologies learn about customers and recognizes their behavior. Make a regular customer a VIP, for instance. Whenever he shops in the same store for a while, he gets a special treatment. These are all pre-payment gaps that mobile payment services could fill.

After the payment

Customer experience does not end at the checkout, even when it is not a physical one. So, there is a role for developers in the shopping aftermath as well. i2c sums up some options in its paper about invisible payments. The company sees potential in identifying related products and services and representing them at the ideal moment to consumers, but also in common post-payment management like receipt management, warranty registrations, returns and exchanges.

These ideas are not new, but putting them into practice is. The Amazon Go stores will show the world of financial innovation new chances. This is the breakthrough the mobile payment services were waiting for, according to i2c. Now it is important that they know where to jump in and when they should grab their chances.