Context-based solutions can be defined as a payment mechanism that eliminates the need for using traditional payment methods such as cash or debit/credit cards. In this scenario, product discovery, selection, as well as payment occurs with the help of audio. Without using the cash or cards in their wallets, customers can complete a transaction using just their voice.
What does a retail store _ with contextual solutions look like?
Digitizing an offline store by gathering ambient sound and emitting sound energy is called a SoundZone. When a customer enters such a SoundZone, without waiting in a queue, they can simply open the partner app on their smartphone and talk to the app directly or by using headphones or earbuds. The customer receives a prompt via the partner app on their phone, thanks to the synchronized sound waves. Next, the customer uses their voice to converse while they browse the store and look for what they need (apparel, electronics, food items, and the like). Their mobile device automatically syncs with the retailer's POS system at the time of purchase, and as the bill is filled out by the retailer, the customer receives it on the app on their phone. To confirm the purchase and make a payment, the customer can merely speak into an earbud or their mobile device, and thus complete the transaction. To use this service however, the consumer must have a smartphone and internet access.
With such a seamless shopping process with no human intervention required, we can expect the same kind of revolution that UPI payments have brought to the Indian economy. Context-based payment methods lessen friction, giving customers a more seamless shopping experience. It significantly enhances the general customer experience, especially in retail.
Making the entire purchasing process simple and smooth for the customer is the aim of context-based payments. It strives to bring together the three essential phases of a shopping journey - Discovery, Selection and Payment—under one roof, without necessitating any contact from the consumer with the cashier or any other store personnel throughout the process. Customers can experience end-to-end no-contact shopping by using their voice to explore a retail store, choose items, and make digital payments.
With this SoundZone solution, the essential merchant identifier is always present. It takes the form of sound waves detected by the customer's phone as soon as they enter the store and notify the merchant of their presence. The customer discovery thus begins when a personalized greeting and the store's catalogue are sent to the partner app on the customer's smartphone. They can then browse the store using the digital catalogue, make selections, and add products to their cart. The customer’s mobile device and the store's billing system are securely connected, allowing them to proceed with the payment and checkout processes without any hindrance. The entire transaction is conducted through voice, wherein the customer can simply speak into their mobile device.
Impact of context-based payments on the digital economy
‘Employing cutting-edge technology to do what you already do, but better’ is what digital transformation is all about. Card payments have been in circulation for decades, and such new contactless payment solutions are improving efficiency by greatly simplifying the payment process.
Context-based payments are most relevant in cases where the payment can be made with the least amount of user intervention. AI, Big data analytics, location-based analytics, risk management, and in some circumstances, biometrics are typically applied in this context. The digital economy is a derivative of an economic activity that comes from billions of daily interactions between individuals, businesses, devices, data, and processes online. The Internet of Things (IoT) especially has increased the interconnection of people with organizations and machines, essentially creating the backbone of the new digital economy.
Envision a connected economy that foresees and predicts your regular and recurring payments, such as refilling fuel at a nearby gas station every few days, getting your everyday morning coffee from a neighbourhood café, subscribing to a monthly newsletter, etc., and makes the necessary actions easier for you while maintaining a high level of security. This same potential can be explored further on the back of context-based payments.
The entire payments ecosystem is evolving from a transaction-centric, closed, and proprietary structure to a reachable, open architecture that makes it easier to implement context-based transactions. A digital omni-channel consumer experience already appears to be a reality due to such far-reaching changes in the payments systems.
Author: Himaghna Dey Sarkar Chief Expansion Officer - ToneTag