The Innovation Project

Making The Virtual Future Of Commerce A Reality

The payments industry is on the verge of a new (virtual) frontier.

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) aren’t just the latest buzz phrases being used across the payments landscape — the technologies present new possibilities of commerce experiences for both consumers and merchants.

In an effort to gain a true look and feel for what the VR/AR future of commerce may be, Discover Global Network is powering the Virtual•2•Reality Hackathon Challenge, where three teams will be chosen to showcase their technology at the Innovation Project 2017 event. The winning team will be awarded a $10,000 prize. The second-place team will receive $5,000, and the third-place team will receive $3,000.

Amy Parsons, SVP of Global Commerce at Discover Global Network, explained that the challenge is seeking developers who understand the virtual and augmented reality space. As part of the Virtual•2•Reality Hackathon competition on March 3–March 5, 2017, developers will be on site creating a commerce environment that integrates payments, all while using VR/AR technologies.

The New Reality of Enabling Payments

The Virtual•2•Reality hackathon participants will focus not only on the VR/AR environment, but also on the potential of seamlessly enabled payments.

Parsons said that in addition to Discover Global Network giving the teams the opportunity to gain exposure to the payments world, the competition will also provide participants with a chance to win money, all while being a part of the Innovation Project experience.

The developers will also have the chance to really think through payment enablement for a concept and experience that is still very new for both merchants and consumers.

When it comes to selecting the participants and ultimately the winners of the challenge, Parsons noted a few things that will be top of mind in the decision making.

“Today, in this world of digital space, first and foremost, creativity is one important factor,” she said.

With regard to VR, commerce has somewhat taken a backseat to things like manufacturing, engineering and even gaming solutions, but there are myriad applications for VR/AR in a commercial or retail value situation, Parsons added.

It’s important that the teams are presenting creative and meaningful ways brands can use VR/AR technologies to help stay relevant in their industries, grow their businesses, and survive and thrive into the future.

The contextual appropriateness of the solutions presented is also an important factor.

As Parsons pointed out, teams will have to be prepared to actually change the flow of activity around the payment mechanism when thinking about the new environments that get created in this digital context.

The decisions around the security and how payment occurs both have to be very contextually appropriate within the setting that’s being created in this virtual space, she noted.

Solutions that are provocative and interesting are also sure to catch the eye and votes of the Hackathon judges.

“Generally speaking, we see the developer community as the creators of tomorrow, and we want to make sure we are supporting innovative work and providing access and exposure to distribution channels or other Discover Global Network business partners and ways to connect companies within our industry,” Parsons said.

One of Discover Global Network’s goals with the Virtual•2•Reality Hackathon is to fostering new ideas, provide a venue to share those ideas and help encourage that next stage of innovation, she explained.

Expanding the Contextual Experience

Long gone are the days of payments being restricted to physical boundaries, such as brock-and-mortar locations or store hours of operation.

A major contextual shift in payments has reinvented the opportunity for merchants and customers to come together, opening the door to more innovative and seamless ways to connect the two sides of a transaction.

Just think about the marketplaces and experiences offered by companies like OpenTable, Uber and TripAdvisor.

These businesses use contextually appropriate experiences to bring people together with restaurants, riders with drivers and travelers with destinations and hotels, respectively.

“We don’t have those physical constraints built into the world anymore, so ultimately it’s really open to anybody’s imagination at this point in time,” Parsons said. “When we talk about shopping and buying, it does become all about that experience in a collective sense.”

In her perspective, the role of networks in furthering these kinds of innovations and ambitions comes down to supporting an ease of payments integration, frictionless experiences for the developers and making sure those are both done in a secure way.

“It’s not solely about the experience being created for the end user, but also the experience developers have with the payments industry and ensuring that it’s simple and easy and that developers are able to integrate payments into their environment in the way that makes the most sense for them technically,” Parsons explained. “The pace of change is like never before, and it’s only going to continue to accelerate with all the technology enablers that are coming into place. Discover Global Network is excited to be partnering with other businesses and bringing different entities together that will really help organizations and developers achieve their goals.”

To learn more about the Discover Global Network Virtual•2•Reality Hackathon, click here. The challenge registration ends on Feb. 27 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Join the conversation at Innovation Project 2017.

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Latest Insights: 

Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. Check out our April 2019 Unattended Retail Report. 

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