While virtual reality may still be in its infancy, the technology is quickly maturing and has the potential to shake up the way consumers shop and pay. At least that’s what Vantiv is out to prove. The company recently gave 800 developers access to their APIs in a hackathon designed to prove the practical application of VR technology in commerce and payments. As Matt Ozvat, Vantiv’s VP of Developer Integrations, said, the results did “not disappoint.”
Hackathons are sort of de rigueur these days – and Matt Ozvat, VP of Developer Integrations at Vantiv, recently participated as a judge in one that brought together nearly 800 developers from across the globe.
Ozvat gave PYMNTS an inside look at one of his passions – virtual reality, and what those developers did to take innovation using VR to another level.
But Ozvat did more than just act as a judge. Vantiv provided access to its own APIs as well as other hardware and technologies in the areas of virtual reality, wearables, and the Internet of Things to see if the developers would rise to the challenge of creating an innovative experience for consumers at the point of sale.
As Ozvat explained, the results did not disappoint.
“It was amazing just to see how many different ideas and how people were thinking, it was such a healthy sign of our industry,” Ozvat said, nothing that the creations involving the use of virtual reality were by far the biggest hit.
One of the teams that really stood out, and ultimately won the Vantiv Challenge, was PayVR, which took virtual reality to a whole new level by transforming a typical in-store retail experience into an immersive 3D shopping mall.
Using an Oculus Rift headset, PayVR transports shoppers into a virtual brick-and-mortar store where they have the ability to explore products and, if interested, instantly purchase with a simple hand gesture or head nod.
This completely immersive experience not only provides a platform for consumers to quickly see and buy products, but also serves as a connection point between a point of sale system and a virtual reality eCommerce site, Ozvat noted.
“What we realized was that when people put on the virtual reality headsets, they are engaged and do not want to take it off. It’s an energizing experience; you look around and you are amazed at the world you are sort of transported to,” Ozvat explained.
The hope is that the exciting and heightened experience provided by the technology will result in an easier and faster buying experience for consumers.
Vantiv already has its own team of developers working in virtual reality, with an expectation that the technology will really begin to take off in eCommerce within the next year.
According to Ozvat, there hasn’t really been a true revitalization of eCommerce in some time, which could be exactly where virtual reality has the chance to break in.
"Once the head gear gets commercialized and every consumer has one, I believe then eCommerce will be a ripe area in the payments industry to really optimize that experience and quick buying power,” he added.
For now, virtual reality technology is in a state of constant development and the number of industries and use cases in which it can be applied continues to grow.
But if the adoption of virtual reality increases over the coming years as many predict it will, Ozvat said we can expect to see a shift that will mimic a “gold rush.”
“It’s going to bring a whole new set of entrepreneurs across every vertical in the U.S., but in payments it’s really going to be exciting,” Ozvat said.
"Right now people are starting to build the concepts and if you’re not thinking ahead about these things, you’re going to be behind after it’s already been commercialized and out in the market."