As always, MWC will serve as the bellwether for the major mobile trends set to influence the direction of the payments industry. The Internet of Things (IoT) will be an inescapable component of 2017’s show, and its impact on commerce will be particularly acute.
While it’s no surprise that our society is becoming increasingly connected, what may come as a surprise is the rate of connectivity’s proliferation. According to Ericsson, on average, 10 million new “things” become connected each day. Very quickly, we are moving from a world where commerce happens in well-defined environments – think in-store and e-commerce– to a world where commerce can happen anytime, anywhere across any connected endpoint.
The onset of IoT has brought an assortment of new opportunities, challenges and considerations to stakeholders across the commerce value chain. On the upside, with connectivity comes commerce capability. More endpoints means an expanded acceptance network, and ultimately, more transactional touchpoints. Further, the amount of data exhaust created from the mesh of connected devices consumers interact with on a daily basis has created an unprecedented opportunity for businesses to better understand and personalize their customers’ wants, needs and desires. This, of course, raises the stakes—and complexity—for delivering true omni-channel experiences. The linear path to purchase is giving way to a significantly more complex shopping journey; 451 Research finds already 60% of commerce outcomes involve the shopper interacting with multiple channels.
As with any new commerce opportunity, IoT will also necessitate a fresh look at security. The sheer number of internet connections—set to be measured in the tens of billions by 2020— will create a security threat an order of magnitude greater than anything the industry has experienced prior. This concern is not going unnoticed; we find 50% of enterprises cite security as their biggest challenge in deploying an IoT initiative. Technologies including tokenization, biometrics and machine learning will play an increasingly critical role in ensuring the integrity of sensitive data as connected devices evolve into platforms for commerce.
Operators, payment networks, device manufacturers and an assortment of other ecosystem participants have a unique opportunity to lay a framework that will redefine how goods and services are purchased in coming years. Collaboration, standardization and interoperability will be the hallmarks of success. Vendors at the show who demonstrate an ability to partner and deliver value beyond the transaction will be best positioned to see their role cemented as payments begin a migration to myriad new endpoints and form factors.