The future of digital payments has seriously lost its hype

November 27, 20173 Minute Read

We thought the future of digital payments would be universally exciting. Who doesn’t like the idea of purchasing sweet Star Wars memorabilia with a simple wave over your watch while saying, “These are the droids I’m looking for?”

Sad to say, but not everyone—or even most folks, for that matter—are as hyped about the concept. Despite the apparent convenience and novelty, digital payment titans like Apple Pay have been slow to catch on. Given the numerous media campaigns touting humanity’s newest form of payment, you’d think everyone and their dog was using it. So, what’s holding this technology back?

False advertising or ahead of its time?

For starters, digital payments may not be as convenient as the ads would lead you to believe. Consider how digital payments are actually carried out: In a physical retail location, these transactions are typically accomplished by holding your device within reach of the contactless reader, then authorizing the sale with a fingerprint or passcode.

While this seems like some sweet sorcery, is it really more convenient than swiping a credit card? Reach into pocket, grab phone, wave over reader, authenticate. Substitute credit card for phone and the steps largely remain the same.

In the digital realm—i.e., online marketplaces—the future digital payments may present a clearer case for added convenience. In these scenarios, a user may be browsing an online marketplace on a device that already has digital payment capabilities set up and running. Simply proceed to checkout, choose digital payment, and you’re done.

With the tried-and-true plastic we’re all accustomed to, you’d need to type in the card number, CSV code, billing address, etc. But, should you find yourself in a situation where you’ve already used the card before, chances are you’ve already saved the info and can simply select it just like you would a digital payment solution. This is where convenience maybe isn’t as revolutionary as we once thought.

Do you trust your phone’s security?

If convenience isn’t as strong a selling point, perhaps device security is. In light of looming threats, like card skimmers and retail data breaches, centralizing your sensitive payment information with a single digital payment solution sounds like a good idea, right?

As it turns out, we still place far more trust in established or traditional payment providers. According to Financial Post, 55 percent of Canadians still find a pin and card convenient, versus the 38 percent who used contactless payment and mobile payment solutions in the first quarter of 2017. With that statistic in mind, there seems to be a stigma attached to the act of coughing up financial data to a third party. Users may not feel secure using an intangible method of payment when they can simply reach for plastic that doesn’t require vulnerable passwords or knowledge of your mother’s maiden name.

That said, the future of digital payments isn’t necessarily dead in its tracks. You’d actually be hard-pressed to find someone in the industry who doesn’t see this technology replacing our current reliance on plastic. What’s needed is a little bit of education. Both merchants and consumers could benefit from a better understanding of the convenience and security benefits associated. Yes, we just debunked some of those benefits, but that doesn’t mean digital payments can’t streamline existing purchasing patterns.

In reality, the struggles of digital payment adoption mirrors that of adopting new tech in the office. You can deploy the latest and greatest technology that will cut man-hours in half—but if your users can’t understand how or why they should use it, well, it’s just a shiny paperweight.

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