The future belongs to mobile payments, says Visa's Bill Sheedy.
But that future remains unclear, as many competing technologies are vying for consumers' attention. "The consumer hasn't yet spoken," says Sheedy, Visa's global executive for corporate Strategy, M&A and government relations.
Sheedy shared his thoughts during a speech this week at Transact 14, the Electronic Transactions Association's trade show. Sheedy promised several times during his talk that Visa would have news to share in the coming weeks, though he would not provide specifics.
However, Google's Ariel Bardin had a few details to share about his company's own plans in mobile payments.
Google may expand Google Shopping Express, which enables consumers in the San Francisco Bay Area to order merchandise and have it delivered the same day, says Bardin, the vice president of product management for Google Payments. Shopping Express is one of many services that blur the line between life online and offline, he said during a speech.
As consumers are increasingly connected with the Internet and mobile devices, companies can increase their mobile profits without stealing business from one another, he says.
Google is looking to expand its payments business through features that help merchants turn the people who brows in their stores into buyers, Bardin says. Google has already helped the boutique retailer Rue La La achieve four times its previous conversion rate, and it has aided Priceline.com improve its rate by 71%, Bardin said during a speech at Transact24.
Google achieved these results by simplifying the purchasing process for consumers with its single-click "Buy with Google" checkout system, Bardin says. Rue La La also accepts Visa's V.me digital wallet.
Consumers who use Google to pay online or in stores can see their purchases from multiple retailers at Google's website. The Google Wallet app helps drive consumers to Google merchants by alerting shoppers when they are near a store that has given them a loyalty card.
The shift to mobile devices is among the factors making this an era of profound change, according to VeriFone CEO Paul Galant, who also spoke at Transact24.
The convergence of payments and big data is making the industry exciting, he says.
Merchants must make the process of shopping in stores as rewarding as online shopping by providing advice, reviews and comparisons, Galant says. Consumers welcome shopping assistance on their mobile devices as long as they find it genuinely useful and don't perceive it as spam, he says.
More people have mobile devices than have relationships with banks, illustrating the possible reach of mobile commerce, Galant said. Some 55% of Americans want to pay with their phones, but that increases to 70% among Millennials, the generation born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, he says.
Loyalty schemes that link gasoline purchases at a single station to rewards in just one supermarket just aren't broad enough, Galant says. Instead, consumers want to buy gas wherever it's convenient and reap the rewards at any grocery store they choose.
But this type of rewards program requires lots of data, he says.
The cloud affords the capability to manipulate enough data to create meaningful offers to individual consumers, and 60% of the public expresses a willingness to share personal information if it brings better offers from retailers, Galant says.
"We must become a better partner," Galant said. "You will see and feel it moving forward."
Visa is also working to improve its partnerships, Sheedy says. Visa plans to help Independent Sales Organizations communicate with small merchants about the importance of security, he says.
"It's all about facilitating payments, and you are in the forefront of that," he says. "You are not going to see us compete with you. We're here to empower you."