3 Trends That Will Change Payments in 2018

Jackson Lewis, Associate Editor

LONDON -- While the United States is undoubtedly the leader in modern consumer-facing technology, the act of paying for an item or service is undergoing changes worldwide.

Michelle Evans, global head of digital consumer research for Euromonitor International, a London-based strategic market research provider, examined three trends that will change how we pay in 2018 in a recent blog post.

Evans said online retailers such as Amazon.com, combined with the 24/7 commerce capabilities provided to consumers by mobile phones and other smart devices, has reinvented commerce and altered the expectations of consumers.

Click through for three trends affecting those expectations and how making a purchase will change in the coming year …

1. The rise of new payment forms

Euromonitor International estimates that nearly 81 million wireless smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo, will be sold globally in 2017, with that category expected to expand 84% from 2017 to 2021.

As consumers are shifting from type to voice interfaces to make purchases, Evans said, the ability to make payments via voice is helping to shift consumer expectations to a more frictionless and secure checkout experience in all forms of retail.

She points to a suite of application programming interfaces (APIs) from MasterCard for card issuers that provides consumers with a single view of where all of their cards are stored across digital devices. Consumers can use the viewer to remotely deactivate cards or set spending controls at the device level, giving consumers more control over their payment capabilities through the internet of things.

2. Artificial intelligence's big day

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is likely to transform many industries in the next decade, including payments,” Evans said, pointing out that while AI has been available commercially since the 1980s, it didn’t become popular commercially until the turn of the century.

Evans offered two examples of AI playing a larger role in commerce: Capital One, which launched a chatbot using AI; and Instacart, which uses machine learning to memorize grocery store layouts.

3. Chinese wallets moving west

In 2015, Chinese consumers made more purchases on their mobile phones than on computers. In 2016, two-thirds of Chinese digital purchases were mobile-based, according to data from Euromonitor International.

Alipay, the mobile-based payment tool from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has an estimated 520 million users, and it supports payments in 27 currencies across 30 countries. Alipay has also partnered with a number of payment providers, including Verifone and Stripe, to expand acceptance outside of China.

And as Chinese consumers travel more—they expect to take 225 million international trips in 2030—they expect to have the same payment convenience available to them wherever they go.

For example, Verifone and Alipay recently announced that Chinese travelers can pay for taxis in North America via Alipay. This means payment innovation is coming from both in and outside of North America, and an influx of Chinese travelers will only strengthen the upward trend of digital payments.