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EDITORIAL Voice and the new ways to pay

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There are new ways to pay springing up all over the place. Where once you had the choice pretty much of cash or credit card, now we have the ability to pay using cards, phones, digital wallets and even, in the case of pre-registered cards, one click of a button. And now you can pay using your voice.

While the use of digital wallets has increased across Europe and the US – with Juniper Research finding that across these two regions spending from them will increase by 40% this year to nearly $790 billion – it is what is waiting in the wings that is most interesting.

Many homes now have a voice device such as Amazon Echo, Google home and even an Apple Hub. Their growing use has seen more people than ever using them to shop. What is now really interesting is that shoppers are actually wanting now to pay on these devices simply by speech.

New research commissioned by Paysafe Group, a leading global payments provider, finds that more than half of consumers (57%) would use voice-activated technology, such as Amazon’s Alexa, to pay for low-value goods and services.

This, I think, is amazing.

Digital wallets – on more conventional devices such as phones – are of course really vital to the changing ways to pay, but they have taken the best part of 20 years to reach this point. Voice payments look to already be on the cusp of being used in a quarter of that time frame.

The Paysafe research also found that one in ten (11%) have used voice to confirm their identity when purchasing goods online.  Furthermore, more than half (53%) of consumers believe that using these devices is quicker and more convenient than traditional payment methods, suggesting an increasing acceptance of speech in consumers’ lives.

Sure, consumers are concerned about security and those quizzed are clear that they want biometrics in place – and the ability to say their password or code – but the essence is that shoppers now want to talk to the internet and actually buy things.

This makes for interesting new ways to pay and to buy things. It also offers direct carrier billing a new market in which to operate.

Of course, Amazon and Apple and Google all want you to use their payment tools and wallets, but there is no reason why carrier billing can’t be part of the voice pay mix. Tying a voice device to a mobile number is simple and already happens when you set up apps. Operators won’t care where then the payment comes from: it may be done via voice on a voice device, but it is essentially a mobile payment.

With these voice devices increasingly being used to stream music – they were sold, initially, as smart speakers after all – and to control service on smart TVs, such as Amazon Fire Stick, which has Alexa control, the same paradigm exists in voice as does on the web.

Across web-based streaming services there is a growing interest in using DCB to allow snacking and initial use of services, with a view to up-selling subscriptions. There is also a move towards using DCB to pay for digital subscriptions.

Tying this in with voice commerce and voice devices opens up yet more markets to DCB. It also helps to drive telemedia and VAS deeper into the consumer mindset. Interesting times lie ahead when we get back to business in September. Have a great summer.

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