Five Key Takeaways from the Innovation Project

March 22 2017

Last week, the Worldpay team joined more than 650 industry leaders at PYMNTS’ Innovation Project at Harvard University to discuss shifts in payments and commerce as they relate to banking, shopping and security.

Worldpay US CEO Kim Goodman participated in a Fireside Chat segment with PYMNTS CEO Karen Webster where she touched on the state of global commerce and Worldpay’s role as a leader of innovation and disruption in the global payments landscape.

In addition to Kim’s session, the Worldpay team attended speaking sessions from several payments experts and C-suite executives and took note of their top five takeaways.

Who and What is Powering the Future of Commerce

In order for today’s businesses to provide personalized experiences, consumers must be willing to forgo private information, such as phone numbers and addresses. Leading companies find that consumers are willing to give up this information in exchange for value, but also expect their data to be secure. For example, Google convinced users to exchange information for a suite of services, including personal calendars and email. This personal data exchange is driving the future of commerce, as it will allow merchants, financial institutions, fintech companies and more to cater to the specific needs of consumers.

The Role of Voice in Commerce

Voice is the oldest means of communication, but it is rarely used in today’s commerce. Voice can be used as means to create an emotional connection between consumers and products. Amazon’s Echo product is an example of voice technology creating a strong connection between consumer and product, as users build relationships with Alexa after continued use. Payments are no different. Commerce was once conversational and with the recent success of voice technology it could revert to that model again. Language is the most natural interaction for consumers and today’s businesses can pair it with voice technology to better engage with customers. For example, consumers can use voice technology to order products or Uber rides from their mobile devices.

Innovation for the Forgotten 75 Percent

Seventy-five percent of U.S. households report an annual income of less than $75,000 and this large demographic is often overlooked when it comes to innovation. Instead, innovation often disrupts this group. For example, driverless cars could put 3 million people who drive trucks or cars for a living out of work, many of whom belong to this 75 percent. Today, instead of ignoring this group, companies like Walmart are catering to it. The retail giant has started democratizing access to affordable basic goods and providing financial services to make financial decisions easier for them. Few institutional players are currently focused on this group, but recognizing the opportunity for innovation in this space could lead to major benefits in the long run.

Making Money Work for Everyone

Today’s consumers want to pay any way they want and payment providers are taking notice. For example, PayPal recently re-evaluated its business model to allow customers to use their preferred payment method, instead of steering them inside their physical wallets for payment. By providing this option, PayPal has the ability to reach new customer segments, including the unbanked with smartphones. Mobile is putting the power of a bank branch in the palm of consumers’ hands, helping to democratize financial services for less affluent groups. PayPal is not alone, as several fintech companies have expanded to reach unbanked markets as well. To find greater success with this market, the next step is for these companies to build greater trust with customers by demonstrating strong security capabilities.

Collaboration in the payments ecosystem

As innovation in the payments industry evolves, it’s clear that collaboration is key to making payment ecosystems thrive. Sometimes this means partnering with a competitor. For example, PayPal and Visa. These collaborations can benefit all companies involved, including merchants, by generating useful insights from aggregated data. For Visa, this means using this data to reduce confusion around mobile wallets, but for the merchant it could mean using this data to determine what payment option is most popular among customers. With the diversity of payment solutions on the market today, no one player can control a payments ecosystem. Therefore, disruptors should embrace the opportunity to cooperate with existing players to build mutually beneficial relationships that drive each business forward.

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