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Mobile Payments? The Moment Is Now, Says Visa

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Visa Europe head tells TechWeekEurope the key for mass adoption is enablement

We’ve all heard how mobile payments are going to change the world, but what are the companies behind the technology doing to get it out to the masses?

At last month’s Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, TechWeekEurope sat down with Visa Europe to find out just what needs to be done in order to get more of us using our mobile devices to pay for everyday goods.

Coming together

Tube TfL contactless Barclaycard (1)I’ve worked in payments a long time – and I’ve never seen so much going on,” says Jonathan Vaux, Visa Europe’s executive director of mobile, whose responsibility it is to make sure more customers than ever before start using their devices for payments.

This is an exciting time for mobile payments, Vaux believes, as the myriad of technologies that power the industry are finally reaching maturation, just as the infrastructure needed to support the systems reaches fruition.

Because it seems that some of the exciting advancements in mobile payments are supported by technologies that already exist. Apple Pay, for example, is made up of technologies that already exist and have been around for a while, and contactless payments via NFC-enabled chips (such as Visa’s recent partnership with TFL, pictrued above) have also been around for years.

Only now, though, is it all coming together in a way that allows customers to experience the full potential of the technology.

All-new?

There’s no doubt that systems such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are going to attract many customers, many of whom will be using mobile payments for the first time, and the challenge for Visa now is to ensure that they provide a simple and straightforward user experience, says Vaux.

“What we’re seeing is a lot more focus on m-commerce and mobile payments, and especially with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, more and more of the providers are looking at that,” he says.

“For us, it’s about how do we, as an organisation, adapt and change and make sure that we are enabling and supporting that rate of change.”

“If you get payment wrong, it’s really bad – but if you get it right, you can drive a really good customer experience!”

jonathan vaux visaBreakthrough

Ultimately, the issue is that for many consumers, using their smartphone to pay for goods remains a significant psychological hurdle, as something many of us use to play Candy Crush or check emails doesn’t seem to correlate with a means to spend hundreds of pounds.

“People have different expectations when using a phone to pay,” says Vaux (pictured left), noting that many people are “probably not doing huge purchases on a phone” right now, but using it for task such as paying bills and contactless transactions.

But this isn’t to say that traditional means of payment, such as cash and cheques, will die out, Vaux believes, as many customers will want to stick with what they know.

“There tends to be an assumption that people will switch everything to one form of payment – I don’t think that will happen at all,” says Vaux. “Cash and cheques still remain around in some markets…so I don’t think we’ve reached a tipping point yet.”

So it seems that the onus is on the merchants themselves, who have, Vaux notes, historically been the agents for change through advancing technology.

As this becomes more commonplace, and customers become more comfortable making payments with their device, mobile payments will really begin to take off.

“You’ll assume you can go to your phone to do more,” says Vaux. “The moment is now.”

All clued up on mobile payments? Try our quiz!