Samsung Pay developer envisions interactive commerce with OV Loop

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Will Graylin made a big mark in the payments industry, launching Roam Data (later sold to Ingenico) followed by LoopPay, which Samsung acquired in 2015 as the tech allowing Samsung Pay to function at magstripe terminals.

But mobile payments haven’t caught fire, and recent data suggests even devoted Samsung Pay users average only about 7 transactions per month, which hardly counts as transforming shopping behavior.

“We achieved broad acceptance of Samsung Pay with MST, but not many people know about it, and the outcome didn’t fulfill the dream I had,” Graylin said in an interview recently at Money20/20 in Las Vegas.

Now Graylin is looking to build support for OV Loop, a universal conversation and commerce app he developed that harnesses any handset’s texting capabilities to support voice, text or video messages with an e-wallet to store tokenized payments.
“This is a culmination of everything I’ve done in the past, but it’s got the potential to finally close a loop because it works with any handset and any carrier, and any bank or merchant,” Graylin said.

OV Loop is powered by technology from Austin, Texas-based SimplyTapp, which Graylin purchased as one of the new system's building blocks. SimplyTapp in 2011 devised cloud-based “host card emulation” for mobile payments, bypassing the need to store card credentials within a handset or make software changes within a payment terminal.

Florida-based Myne, a messaging app Graylin acquired, provides technology for voice, video and broadcast transmission via OV Loop.

Graylin also bought On Vocal, which makes Amazon Alexa-enabled headsets OV Loop is marketing for use with the messaging app, and is the inspiration for the company's name.The headsets, called Hearables, sell for around $179 a pair and enable users to switch easily between Google, Siri or Alexa voice commands for messaging, controlling music and phone calls.

OV Loop is still in development, but Graylin’s move aligns with growing consumer interest in “conversational commerce.”

Data suggests about 15 percent of U.S. homes have smart-speaker devices voice like Amazon Echo and Google Home, and this holiday season may see a surge in purchases of—and using—these devices. By 2020 half of homes will have one, according to some estimates.

Voice payment is still an emerging discipline, but it’s one with huge potential through multiple channels beyond mobile handsets, said Patrick Gauthier, vice president of payments for Amazon, in a separate interview at Money2020.

“While it takes consumers time to warm up to new habits, momentum is building, and shopping by voice is an entry point for additional purchasing capabilities,” Gauthier said.

Graylin learned firsthand how difficult it is to get consumers in developed markets to change their payment habits. He stayed on board with Samsung Pay for three years after selling LoopPay reportedly for $250 million.

“I spent a lot of time thinking about what was lacking in mobile payments, and percolating ideas,” said Graylin, who began investing in promising concepts and also joined Synchrony’s board of directors.

Graylin decided to bet on a new direction for conversational commerce with fast, secure payments embedded instead of tacked on afterward, the way payments are evolving within existing U.S. social media apps and shopping platforms.

“Using OV Loop, customers initiate a transaction with voice or text; that command is immediately converted into a link in a text with another set of possible actions to get more information or make a purchase,” Graylin said.

OV Loop is free for users, who download the app for iOS or Android. Once signed in, they may connect to people in their contacts or participating businesses.

Graylin didn't disclose pricing, but noted OV Loop is in beta testing phase with multiple merchants, including a ticket seller, online retailer and an insurance company. Discussions are underway with several banks about pilots that might begin next year.

“The idea is to create a more natural and human-driven approach for companies to communicate with consumers, and it will be a superior outcome than most chatbots,” Graylin said.

Graylin’s vision is extremely ambitious and he faces a tough challenge trying to build granular adoption in mature markets. But Eric Grover, principal analyst with Intrepid Ventures, sees some merit in the concept.

“While entrenched habit is hard to overcome, Graylin’s idea strikes me as eminently plausible,” Grover said.

Innovators are pursuing many different approaches to improve digital commerce through new channels that could involve the internet of things, along with predictive tools that read consumers’ voices, and possibly their gestures and behaviors, said Thad Peterson, a senior analyst with Aite Group.

“Enabling voice payments will be a major development in the evolution of payments, but it’s going to need a secure platform that’s very nearly error-free before it becomes trustworthy enough to scale,” Peterson said.

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