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China leads the Virtual Reality revolution

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

UK – Worldpay, a global leader in payments, has found that China leads the world in wanting to make purchases in a Virtual Reality (VR) environment with 93% of consumers surveyed confirming this sentiment – with the UK (35%) and the Netherlands (30%) coming in last place amongst those surveyed. The research commissioned by Worldpay aimed to investigate the current take up of VR and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies as well as the barriers and benefits to adoption envisaged. 

Worldpay’s research – which surveyed 16,000 consumers across Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S. – revealed that global consumers have high expectations for VR and AR, with 55% of respondents agreeing that the technology will soon become as popular as smartphones.  Encouragingly this positivity for the adoption of the technology is reinforced by a third (33%) of global respondents believing that VR/AR will become regularly used by everyone. Moreover 20% think that while it might be used by specific industries (such as for travel or design), it will not become common. Only 3% think that the technology will soon be out of date and not used at all.

However, as adoption levels of the technologies increase, consumers over the world are reluctant to spend their cash on VR and AR devices, with two major factors holding them back. Cost (61%) is the biggest barrier for consumers buying a VR or AR device, followed by concerns they have over the security of storing their payment details (42%) in a virtual world. 

However, when looking more closely at individual countries, concerns over anti-social behaviour and embarrassment of using the technology was also clear:

  • Germans, more than any other market, believe that real-life is better than a VR/AR world (80%). This is compared with a global average of 70% of respondents, with China (58%) and Japan (51%) least likely to agree. 
  • Three fifths (60%) of consumers in the eight markets surveyed say that the ability to visualise and experience a product or experience in VR/AR would not change their likelihood to impulse buy; however, 26% say this would make them more likely, rising to 39% of those surveyed aged 25-34. 
  • Over half (56%) of Brits agree VR will increase anti-social behaviour, compared with a global average of 49% of respondents.
  • Two fifths (40%) of Dutch consumers surveyed highlighted that they were concerned about looking silly when using the devices. Consumers in Brazil (29%), China (30%) and Japan (33%) were the least embarrassed users of VR globally.

Commenting on the data, Nick Telford-Reed, Director of Technology Innovation at Worldpay said: “The concerns relating to security of payments highlighted by this research are nothing new. It’s not that long since we were all wary of shopping online or mobile banking. Consumers have the right to be concerned about security of a new technology like virtual reality. That’s why it’s the role of Worldpay to investigate and innovate around developing payment trends so that we can address these security issues head on while continuing to enable compelling user experiences. With 81% of respondents noting that they may feel comfortable in the future to buy an item or service using VR, the possibility is there but we now need to match that with action.”

To help overcome the perceived security barrier, researchers at Worldpay are investigating how shoppers can pay using a credit or debit card while remaining immersed within a virtual environment. The global payments processor has created a proof of concept, which provides the same levels of convenience, and security that shoppers have in-store and online, without needing to leave the virtual world. 

The prototype design uses Host Card Emulation (HCE) to virtualise the purchasing process. The payment process uses EMV* technology, . For payments under £30, the prototype works in the same way a contactless payment does – with the tap of the (virtual) card across a (virtual) card machine. For purchases over £30, Worldpay has created a technology called AirPIN. This first of its kind allows the consumer to see a range of numbers whilst immersed in the virtual reality environment, and then collect the four numbers that make up their PIN, one by one, using their virtual controller.

Commenting on the proof of concept, Telford-Reed added: “Innovation is what drives us and our clients. As technology moves on, so do the needs of consumers. As a leading payments company, it is our responsibility to consider where the next generation of payments will take place. We have built this prototype to provide a seamless, secure payment option for consumers in a virtual world. The benefits for merchants experimenting with virtual and augmented reality could be significant. While it is very early stages in its development, we believe that the sky is the limit when it comes to the industries which will find this technology useful.  As more companies experiment with VR/AR in their endeavor to drive higher customer engagement, they need to consider if VR technology can support purchases as well. Whatever sales channel, it’s vital to make the payment process both slick and secure for customers. A compelling, immersive and seamless VR experience may even have the capability to increase sales.” 

* EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, and is a global standard for credit and debit cards that uses computer chips to authenticate (and secure) chip-card transactions.

ENDS

About the data

The research was conducted by research house Opinium in March 2017 and interviewed 16,000 consumers who have heard about Virtual or Augmented Reality in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, USA and United Kingdom. The full report The 360 consumer: how VR is reshaping the buying experience is available upon request.

About Worldpay

Worldpay is a leading payments company with global reach. We provide an extensive range of technology-led payment products and services to around 400,000 customers, enabling their businesses to grow and prosper. We manage the increasing complexity of the payments landscape for our customers, allowing them to accept the widest range of payment types around the world. Using our network and technology, we are able to process payments from geographies covering 99% of global GDP, across 146 countries and 126 currencies. We help our customers to accept more than 300 different payment types. 

For more information, visit http://www.worldpay.com/global

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