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Why Do Some Payment Technologies Rise And Others Fall?

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Barclaycard’s Nick Kerigan tells us what can payment companies can learn from tech providers

We live in an age where new possibilities and innovations constantly encourage us to push technological boundaries to improve processes, businesses, consumers and ostensibly, the world. However, not all innovations succeed, and a big part of my job is looking ahead to consider future technologies and the impact they’re likely to have on the payments industry.

Repeatedly, reputable companies have invested in new technology, but haven’t reaped the commercial rewards. Reasons vary from timing, usability and functionality to consumer response.

Take Kodak as an example. By steadfastly maintaining that the physical ‘photo is king’, they lost their market-leading position. Despite inventing the first digital camera in 1975, by the time they discovered that digital photography would eventually replace film, their competitors had surpassed them – with cheaper products.

Nick KeriganThey weren’t alone. Nokia, having developed a handset with a touch-screen and internet capability in 2004 (three years before the iPhone), did not then invest in improving their operating system, and so ended up being overtaken by models which were smarter and more appealing to consumers. Then there’s Boo.com, a before-its time lifestyle website; in just 18 months, this start-up company invested around $135m. Yet its state-of-the-art functionality was far beyond the capabilities of most computers, and internet speeds, in 1999 – and ultimately failed.

Clearly technology has to have a purpose that converges with consumer lifestyle and demand.

Within payments, we have seen great successes in the likes of our contactless partnership with TfL, established just as contactless became mainstream. By enabling people to pay for travel, a daily and usually unremarkable activity, with a contactless card, they don’t need to worry about topping up a travelcard, whilst knowing they’ll be charged the best fare. Since launching in 2014, 33m passengers have made over 300m journeys and using ‘touch-and-go’ payments, and in turn have started using it more elsewhere, leading to contactless usage increasing exponentially in other retail categories.

In the future, payments will become increasingly invisible. Uber is a classic example. The simple marriage of the smartphone and a card has seen this start-up go from strength to strength.

Established companies such as John Lewis have also created new processes to benefit customers. Its Click and Collect service allows shoppers to purchase items online and pick up in-store. This model reduced the logistical difficulties associated with their growing e-commerce site and gave customers the choice of shopping in their preferred way.

barclaycard bpayIt’s important that brands realise their potential and strengths, but it’s equally important that they keep an eye on staying relevant and anticipating the direction that their industry is going in. For example, Barclaycard introduced bPay (pictured left), a wearable payment technology, to tap into consumer demand for a more ‘frictionless’ payments experience. Other companies like Deliveroo, a UK-based food delivery service, filled a gap not just for consumers wanted better quality takeaway meals, but for a number of higher-end restaurants to expand their customer reach by home-delivering quality food at reasonable prices. At just three years old, they now have a global presence and 25 percent month-on-month growth.

As time wears on, customers will only become more selective, expect more and seek more convenient payments options. With this in mind, each and every business must both keep up with consumer demand and look into the future to become, and stay, successful.

Nick Kerigan is managing director of future payments at Barclaycard

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