Q&A: Barclaycard on payment technologies

Can you vision a future without cash?

Although different forms of payments are rising in popularity, I don’t necessarily think contactless, mobiles, wearables and other innovations will replace cash; it’s more about consumer choice. In the future, the ideal situation would be for consumers to have the ability to pay their way when they want, how they want – at every point of sale device in the UK. Retailers have certainly come to realise the benefits of non-cash payments – for example, the rich set of data that accompanies them, which can be analysed to make smarter decisions on everything from marketing strategies to inventory and purchasing decisions. What’s important, however, is for retailers to continue listening to their customers to understand the payment options they want.

Will mobile payments continue to gain traction among shoppers?

Mobile payments have already gained strong traction in certain demographics as consumers start to appreciate the speed and convenience it offers. In 2016, for example, Barclaycard launched Android Contactless Mobile, the first mobile payment solution in the UK for Android devices, and we’ve seen strong adoption rates. I think mobile payments will grow even more robustly once multiple payment options and even loyalty cards can be incorporated into one mobile wallet, so shoppers have one device where it all comes together.

Give us a snippet of the two most interesting trends you've discovered about payments in recent years?

Conversational commerce and payments really fascinate me. I believe typing things into machines was just an interim step until we worked out how to talk to machines – it’s so much more natural for us human beings. Talking to computers enables us to reduce friction even further. I love the fact that it won’t be long before we try to find the nearest shoe store while walking down the street, and simply speak to our mobile device to direct us there. We can then go in, select the shoes we like, and tell our mobiles to make the purchase before just walking out! I believe that voice commerce will surpass web commerce altogether, in the not-too-distant future.

I’ve also been interested in the way payments are becoming more and more integrated into the customer experience, and increasingly invisible. No one wants to stand in a queue to wait to pay – it’s a necessary evil. Ultimately, I think that we will no longer pay in stores, hotels or restaurants at all; there will be no fixed tills. We’ll order and pay ahead of time via our mobiles, or we’ll have embedded our payment details to our personal profiles so the amounts can be automatically debited. It’s happening everywhere from Amazon Go to Uber through to OpenTable payments.

Why is Barclaycard sponsoring the Payments Theatre at RBTE 2017?

With all the recent payment innovations in the retail space, shoppers expect and demand more than ever before – and keeping up with the pace isn’t easy. New technology, new regulations and unfortunately, new risks means it pays to partner with a payments leader. At Barclaycard, we’ve put our 50 years’ experience and expertise into developing a suite of payment solutions to help retailers unlock revenue opportunities. So, sponsoring the Payments Theatre at an event renowned for equipping businesses with the right inspiration, advice and tools to aid growth was a no-brainer.

What's the greatest example of retail technology you've seen this year?

The use of augmented reality in the retail environment – it really helps to bring products to life, both in-store and online. I recently saw it at the Lego Store in Leicester Square: I scanned the code on a box of Lego to reveal the complete set in 3D AR. This kind of innovation is a great example of how retailers can utilise digital touch points within store environments to engage consumers and help them with their purchasing decisions.

What consumer technology has revolutionised your day-to-day life?

My Apple Watch. When it first came out, I was hesitant about getting one because I felt I already spent enough time staring at my phone and didn’t need another screen. However, my husband bought me one and it has surprisingly liberated me from my phone! I feel completely connected all the time as I get a ping on the wrist each time a news alert, email or text arrives, but I rarely need to get my mobile out to find out more.  

What keeps you up at night?

Keeping abreast of all the changes in payments! There’s been more innovation in the past three years than in the previous 30. Innovation is disrupting every part of payments including what we pay with (phone, ring), where we pay (online, in-store), when we pay (before, during, after) and how we pay (in-app, MPOS). My job is to help our clients stay on top of these trends and to understand what they really need to prioritise to ensure they sell more and enable consumers to pay however, whenever and wherever they wish.

Barclaycard is sponsoring the Payments Theatre at RBTE 2017 on 8 & 9 May.

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