The customer experience challenge just got more difficult

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Just ten years ago, mobile wallets still seemed fanciful, peer-to-peer payments existed only in beta form, and the thought of Goldman Sachs and Apple teaming up on a digital payment product was far-fetched. As a new decade dawns, it’s clear the payments industry not only served up a few surprises, but experienced a revolution that set the pace for future innovation.

In just the past few years, payment technology has made transactions faster, easier, and more mobile. Consumer expectations have heightened in response, suggesting that the next decade in payments will be at least as eventful as the last.

So, what’s in store for the 2020s? Here’s where the future of payments is headed, based on the trends currently charting this industry’s course.

Payments at the center of the new customer experience. The key word shaping payments in the next decade is “integrated.” Right now, that means keeping payments on-brand and consistent across channels. But in the near future, payments will be part of the shopping experience itself. Technology that lets customers pay in the fitting room – or automatically, as they walk out of a store – will likely become an everyday reality.

Driving this trend is the fact that consumers expect unified commerce. For younger shoppers who grew up making mobile purchases and repaying friends with P2P apps, the CX bar will be set even higher in the next decade. To keep up, payments companies and retailers must enable a payment experience that is truly barrier-free.

That includes integrating the best of e-commerce with physical retail spaces. Brick-and-mortar stores are already accepting payment by mobile wallet, eliminating the need for shoppers to carry cash and cards. As payments become a frictionless and even invisible part of the shopping experience, this is freeing up retail workers to serve in more consultative roles. That means more customer engagement and less time spent on registering products in the cash register and receiving POS payments: a move toward reshaping brick-and-mortar retail for consumers that have plenty of options for where and how to shop.

Payments will follow the consumer. Digital technology has made payments faster than ever, and the next decade should herald a rise of payments that blend seamlessly with customers’ everyday lives. New developments in biometric and voice payments, as well as payment integration in entertainment and media, have transformed the shopping experience.

Consider popular online or mobile games where players can make rapid in-game purchases to upgrade the gaming experience on the fly. That concept should soon be the norm in other areas of life – from grabbing a snack at a convenience store to making a purchase from a pop-up shop at a community event.

The rise of social commerce, which blends e-commerce and social media, has made payments even more customer-centric. Social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram now enable users to buy clothing and other goods they see featured in posts. This shortens the path from inspiration to purchase, boosting the impact of every share. For retailers, that means more opportunities to increase brand engagement and sales.

In fact, social referral to retail e-commerce sites has grown by 100% in just two years and 30% of online shoppers say they are likely to make a purchase on social media. Since social platforms have begun launching checkout features to make transactions even simpler, the next few years should come with an uptick in on-the-spot payments. This calls for advances in security, as well as payment providers who understand the growing complexities of digitally enabled commerce.

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