Qualcomm Technologies Interview w/ Art Miller

March 20, 2018         By: Michael Millington

  • More and more we see the expansion of the IoT in more of what we use in everyday technology. How does the payments industry fit into this movement?

Qualcomm believes there is a massive opportunity beyond phones and we are at the heart of transforming and connecting new and existing industries.  To date more than 1 billion IoT devices have shipped using Qualcomm’s chips.  With Qualcomm’s expertise in mobile and the mobile platform having transformed many industries, we foresee this platform also driving the Retail IOT including Payments. The overall Retail landscape is changing and there are tremendous opportunities for in-store operations, inventory management, planogram compliance, advertising, analytics, and customer experience to be changed or improved dramatically as a result of applying IoT solutions to these areas.   Point of sale devices for example are shifting from the traditional cash register to embedded devices with larger screens, cameras, Android, HD touch displays that support video, etc. – much of what is done today on mobile phones.  So as trends in both retail and payment evolve, Qualcomm is well positioned to take advantage of this transition and provide the necessary technologies including connectivity, compute, multimedia experience, camera and AI.

 

  • Can you tell me more about the direction Qualcomm tech is going in with the focus on PoS?

Similar to what we said in first question – we believe there is a large opportunity for Retail and Payment to transform and improve as a result of the evolution of the IoT. Existing retail is inefficient and online has forced retail to address its inefficiencies, however we believe that access to data and subsequent analysis of that data will help transform future in-store experiences… so “digitization” is key to streamlining Retail, and POS is part of that equation.  Fortunately, the POS market is well aligned with smartphone features and with the transition to HLOS, touchscreen, video, and high mobility, this provides strong alignment with Qualcomm Technologies core smartphone competencies, including in connectivity, multimedia experience, camera/AI, biometrics etc.  Today, Qualcomm technologies in compute and connectivity are at the heart of many POS devices including from Landi, Clover, Square, Elo, Pax, Newland, and Centerm. However, as trends evolve and payment options/methodology shift, Qualcomm monitors these trends and works to align many of its technologies and product roadmap to the latest market need/demands. For example, one could shop without any traditional POS method required such as Amazon Go’s no check-out model.  Implementations such as this could potentially leverage technology capabilities like computer vision, deep learning and sensors, of which many of Qualcomm Snapdragon SOCs already have these capabilities built in. These types of capabilities offer an opportunity for new types of payment systems to enter the market.

 

  • As far as solving payment related problems, Qualcomm is an industry leader. What issues do you find retailers dealing with often and does Qualcomm have anything in the works to combat these problems? 

Existing retail is inefficient and POS is only part of the equation in helping to solve some of the payment issues. Despite the desire to evolve to more efficient POS systems, some of the challenges for retailers is, for now, incumbent solutions will continue to dominate, especially since design and certification of POS devices are slow.  Additionally there has been a shift in payment expectations from consumers who may prefer NFC or QR code payment methods such as WeChat Pay or Alipay running in retail environment enabled by smartphones for example.  With Qualcomm having enabled the rapid migration to Android – and as leaders in Android, our SoC running this OS has allowed the market to transition rapidly. But as we move from a closed, managed ecosystem to a more flexible Android HLOS and market based applications, there are new opportunities for us and the industry to continue challenging the status quo and bring in other capabilities such as computer vision/camera processing, deep learning, sensors, biometrics, connectivity, security, and voice UI to help drive new methods of mobile payments.

 

  • The mobile payment sphere always seems to be changing in one way or another. Mobile wallets, while convenient, have seen their fair share of pitfalls in the past as well. Where do you see the future of mobile payments moving towards? As more establishments look to go cashless, is it a stretch to say physical forms of payments will become obsolete at some point?

Your mobile or any other form of wearables could provide an opportunity to tie you to the transaction and that identifies you to your means of payment – similar to Amazon Go.  With technology capabilities such as computer vision, deep learning and sensors, there is space for new types of payments to enter the market.

 

  • With mobile technology become faster and more intuitive, Qualcomm has always managed to be near the forefront of the movement. Does technology have a ceiling, and if so, how close are we to reaching it?  

With the success of the smartphone platform and the proliferation of that same platform into other segments, we believe there will always be new innovation and evolving technologies that can be applied across numerous new segments and will enable the creation of new use cases and new categories of products (ie, “internet of the smart farm” all the way to the “internet of smart retail”).  Additionally continued innovation is allowing us to access information quicker and make our lives easier, ultimately offering new experiences that we didn’t even imagine could be possible, and allowing many industries to improve, become more efficient, introduce new ways of generating revenue and hence even change the way people conduct their business or run their operations. As for retail and payment, we believe that technology will continue to evolve and inspire innovative new ways to make payments more seamless and efficient.

 

About Art Miller, Senior Director, Business Development Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

Art Miller serves as the head of Retail IOT within Qualcomm Technologies Inc. (QTI) Industrial Internet of Things (IOT) business unit. His 20+ years of mobile wireless experience spans development engineering, certification, manufacturing, MNO account management, business development and product marketing of cellular wireless devices, infrastructure, and chipsets. 

Prior to his current tenure at QTI, Art held engineering design and management roles within Kyocera Wireless’s phone division and Motorola’s cellular infrastructure group.

Art holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan.