For years, Money20/20 has hung its hat on defining what the financial industry considers to be the “future” of money. For most of the recent past, this has encompassed themes such as increasing consumer adoption of new digital currency and mobile wallets, or emerging ecosystems linked to any form of online payments, and even hypothetical or newfangled technologies that could keep transactions and consumers safe and secure. And just as topics such as bitcoin, Apple Pay and facial recognition were starting to feel a bit dusty… the conversation flipped.
This year’s Money20/20 was inspiring, as it showed what an industry can do if it sticks to its knitting. Rather than another year of hypotheticals, this year’s conversation was driven by a groundswell of actual traction. Education sessions didn’t focus on introducing new technologies (entirely), but rather honed in on best practices, revealing real and actual impact and trend analysis of how these technologies are being used and making a difference today.
While nobody is over the finish line yet, it was exciting to see the industry move from mystery to this more revelatory phase. For example, consider how technology supporting digital payments has matured: when Apple and Google first entered the mobile wallet space there was a flurry of new technology and apps as everyone jumped in with their own version of mobile payments. Now, we’re seeing more fintech and banks start to embrace the mantra, “if you can’t beat em, partner!” Think Chase Pay’s integration with Samsung Pay. This consolidation is being driven by consumers that prefer more payment options in the wallets they prefer – not more apps. We’ll likely continue to see the consumer-centered momentum, particularly on the part of larger companies who are late to the party or a bit less agile than their start-up peers.
The self-serve retail conversation was no different, as we evolved our focus from implementing digital payment technologies, to scaling them – and seeing the benefits of driving that adoption. What’s next? Creating an engaging consumer experience around purchase, rather than simply removing friction to encourage consumer use. Themes such as AI, biometrics, targeted communications, personalized offers based on purchase history and tons about how Big Data is making retailers smarter were all on the table.
As these self-serve retail technologies have emerged from what we knew as traditional vending machines, to sophisticated kiosks and pop-up store fronts, retailers – big and small – are beginning to realize the opportunities that self-service retail locations represent for expanding reach, enhancing brand presence, and reducing cost. By bringing goods and services to where people live, work and play – and investing in the right technology platform – retailers can enable a personalized experience on-par with the personal touch a shopper gets in-store, with varied digital payment and loyalty options that encourage sales and stickiness.
Here are a few key takeaways from Money20/20 that connect directly with self-serve and unattended retail.
– Self serve retail makes it easy for business to decrease operational costs through an interconnected ecosystem that enables them to scale.
– Turn-key services that include digital payments like credit cards and mobile wallets must integrate a loyalty program platform for rewards and communications, and rest on a cloud-based software system for logistics, warehouse management, merchandising and more.
– As retailers grow or move into new channels, they are looking for technology partners who enable them to stay ahead of the curve and intuitively provide them with all the services they need to run a successful unattended business — starting at the point of sale.
– Self-service provides retailers with an inexpensive option to create a retail footprint without the costly investment of a storefront, and enables them to extend their online presence to where consumers are.
As leaders in the self-serve, unattended retail industry and nearly a million connections to our payment platform, our end-to-end solution also includes everything a business would need to implement cashless payments as well as back-office efficiency software for generating additional revenue and managing the machines/kiosks in the field. Of course, with unattended retail, security is paramount. USAT is PCI level-one secure and is monitoring new security features becoming more widely available on the market to see which are being most readily adopted by consumers and other retail channels. In addition, the banking/fintech collaboration represents a smart move towards partnering rather than replicating technology or services that already exist.
As more consumers and businesses continue to expect digital payments, self-serve and unattended options at point-of-sale, being able to weave an intricate web that starts at the purchase point, capturing data in a way that drives greater efficiency and cost savings while driving back to consumers with a more personalized experience is the future of retail. We’re excited to be at the helm of such an important evolution – and look forward to continuing to drive industry change and innovation for yet another year.
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