What VR Might Do to Mobile Payments

June 5, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

With all the new technologies that have been arriving on the mobile payments frontier, from biometrics to big data, it’s easy to see how this still-young technology is taking home a lot of benefits from all this technological attention. One new report, however, suggests that the biggest for mobile payments may yet be outstanding, as virtual reality (VR) may prove one of mobile payments’ biggest and best new friends.

Virtual reality as a whole is gaining ground; while it’s often prohibitively expensive for users these days, the cost of entry will only fall as the hardware required to get in becomes more readily available. ABI Research projects that, by 2020, one in five Americans will have experienced virtual reality on some level, and that makes for a substantial potential market.

Moreover, 22 percent of those studied in an Ericsson survey believe that, eventually, all shopping will go online. VR shopping will end up mimicking the in-store experience according to one in four respondents, and 26 percent believe that most stores will end up using either augmented reality (AR) or VR eventually. With VR tech able to do just about everything from showing how a piece of furniture will look or fit in a living room to showing how a piece of clothing will look or fit on your own human torso, the end results have a lot of possibilities.

With the ability to incorporate mobile payments into VR systems already demonstrated—Swarovski’s VR app has had Masterpass integration since last fall—and several examples of AR systems emerging from IKEA to JD.com, there’s every reason to believe that the growth of VR will ultimately spur mobile payments use as well.

This is a reasonable enough projection; while people enjoy innovation, it has to provide value, and the best way to couple value with innovation is to present it in a familiar fashion. Shoppers like the brick-and-mortar store experience—the sheer numbers of brick-and-mortar shoppers make that point clear—so if VR and online shopping can approximate the store experience accordingly, the end result should be familiar enough to be tried, yet innovative enough to be enjoyed.

Both VR and mobile payments are up-and-coming technologies, and the notion of these two getting together to produce exciting new options is certainly not out of line.