While 2016 may have been yet another year where bitcoin dominated industry conversations, the hype is beginning to get a bite of reality. While many organisations have been exploring its applications, even the most optimistic predictions of mainstream use put it years off. Instead, change is more likely to come in the clever combination of technologies that are already available. 2017 will be all about “stick-on” technology; a card reader will no longer just be chip-and-pin, and payments made over a laptop will no longer just use a password. Increasingly these methods will be combined with add-ons such as Near Field Communication (NFC) and biometrics such as fingerprint and perhaps even retina scanning.
As technology such as NFC gets cheaper and more readily available, the payments landscape is likely to drastically change, as SMEs begin to utilise and combine these already existing technologies. Previously, the design of an exceptional or unique customer experience required lots of engineering, heavy investment, and in-house development. Now, however, the availability of easy-to-use tech will close that gap and make it far easier to achieve similar levels of convenience and slickness.
So far, innovation has been focused almost exclusively on in-store payments – combining mobile wallets, NFC technology and sometimes biometrics. This year will see the mobile payment players direct themselves towards online payments in a big way – offering businesses their own solution to accept payments on their website. We’ve already seen the start of this shift towards online payment innovation, with some mobile payment schemes developing their own payment gateways, and others partnering with pre-existing online payment companies – for example, Apple’s integration with Digital River.
As these players shift their focus from in-store to online, the technology will follow. NFC, for example, has already revolutionised how payments are made in-store with the incredibly popular “contactless” payment option. Next, it should be expected that most laptop and personal computer developers will be embedding NFC into their products so that people can also use contactless payment methods to pay online. Applied in this way, NFC has the potential to help a whole new market of online business – from large enterprises to niche retailers without even a physical premises – achieve greater customer satisfaction by creating faster, more efficient ways to get through the online checkout line.
Once technologies such as NFC and biometrics become embedded in online practices, new behaviours such as fingerprint scanning will become so ubiquitous that it is a very real possibility that old, outdated, and cumbersome practices – such as the traditional password – will finally start to fall out of practice. It’s been long muted, but the way in which the payments landscape is evolving strongly suggests that the password really will be well on the way towards extinction by the end of 2017.
Jens Bader is Chief Commercial Officer at Secure Trading.