The payment landscape has been one for the most rapidly evolving areas of retail in recent years as the convenience of mobile wallets and tap ’n’ go cards takes hold. And according to experts even this convenience will soon be superseded, with voice payments the new trend shaking up the commerce realm.
So let’s take a look at voice payments, how they work, and where the technology is headed from here.
The current voice payment landscape
Driving the voice payment revolution are ever-helpful virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Siri which enable people to command services like playing music, turning on the air-conditioning and more.
In the past 12 months or so they’ve also been given access to finances with major institutions like Amex and banks teaming up with Alexa to permit users to check their bank balance and even pay their bills.
Meanwhile e-commerce behemoth PayPal has partnered with Siri to enable voice prompted payment transfers.
Digital Trends explains in the PayPal case voice payments work like this:
“You can request money from that fickle roommate who always seems to disappear come rent time by getting Siri’s attention — “Hey Siri” — followed by a simple command: “request $50 from Bob using PayPal.
“Conversely, you can send some spending money to your second cousin whose birthday you forgot by saying, for example, “send $50 to Julia using PayPal.”
And it’s a trend that’s catching on…
Research by Business Insider found the voice payments movement was gaining momentum, with adoption set to rapidly increase within the coming years.
In a recent report they noted:
- 8% of US respondents to a 2017 BI Intelligence survey said they used voice commands to buy something, send money to a friend, or pay a bill.
- Adoption is set to grow from 8% to 31% of US adults by 2022.
- Three factors will fuel this growth: an explosion of voice-enabled devices, generational gains in AI, and a strong consumer value proposition for voice payments.
- Payments providers are moving in: Amazon, Apple, Google, and PayPal are part of the growing list of companies making these next-generation payments possible.
- Banks are betting on AI, too. Bank of America, Capital One, USAA, and more are rolling out conversational interfaces to their customers.
From online to real world
At the moment voice payments predominantly facilitate online transactions, but it’s a small step to the real world, and one that bricks and mortar retailers should be keen to embrace.
DigiDay explains major retailers are already starting to actively embrace the trend.
They note that in February Starbucks launched a beta version of a voice ordering function for iOS and Alexa users, with about 1000 users in the US testing the service.
For real world retailers it will allow new potential in the purchasing realm that may work like this:
A consumer peruses a bricks and mortar retailer’s website, selects an item of their choosing, commits by voice to buying it online, and either picks it up in-store or utilizes same day delivery.
In the future it may also extend to authorizing payments in-store by voice on a mobile phone.
The final word
The voice payments push is all about convenience but is a movement still in its infancy as voice assistants hone their ability to communicate and understand.
Or as Business Insider predicts: “Voice payments will evolve from clunky and poorly scripted sessions to interactions as natural as one might have with a personal shopper or bank employee”.
And like many areas of bricks and mortar retail, harnessing the voice payments push will require retailers to stay one step ahead of the omnichannel, digital savvy trend.