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Are Digital Wallets the Answer to Mixed Reality Payments Infrastructure?

Digital Wallets Well-Positioned for Mixed Reality Payments

History tends to repeat itself.

For example, picture this: Bitcoin is trading above $50,000 and one of the world’s biggest technology companies just launched a mixed reality headset.

Only it isn’t 2021. The year is 2024, and bitcoin has risen from the ashes of a battered cryptocurrency industry, while the newly launched and buzzy mixed reality headset is from Apple, not the platform formerly known as Facebook.

While in 2021 the metaverse and its legless avatars garnered their fair share of eyerolls, in 2024, mixed reality environments, which combine elements of both virtual reality and augmented reality, are being taken more seriously by both brands and consumers alike.

But one thing remains the same today as it was three years ago: The commerce playbook for mixed and virtual realities is still being written, and successfully executing it will require new ways of thinking about payments and user experience.

Essential to making the most of the emergent mixed reality opportunity, regardless of industry, is establishing a payments infrastructure for this new merger of spatial computing, the connected digital landscape, and both headset and handheld device hardware that aims to become the next platform for human connectivity.

The answer to providing a seamless and secure payment experience within virtual environments may turn out to be one we already have, and it is increasingly being integrated across the mixed reality offerings populating today’s marketplace: digital wallets.

See also: The Real-World Tech That Smooths Payments in the Metaverse

Virtual Worlds, Real Money Movement

Digital wallets, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and others, are well-positioned to play a role in facilitating payments in mixed reality environments. These wallets can typically store various forms of value, including traditional currencies, cryptocurrencies and potentially unique virtual assets or tokens specific to the mixed reality platform.

Mixed reality applications and experiences often include virtual marketplaces where users can buy digital goods, services or enhancements.

Highlighting this, the PYMNTS Intelligence study “How We Will Pay Report: How Connected Devices Enable Multitasking Among Digital-First Consumers” found that 31% of consumers want virtual reality to recreate brick-and-mortar shopping experiences.

Against this backdrop, digital wallets can provide an existing way to enable in-experience purchases, allowing users to buy items or unlock features without leaving the mixed reality environment.

Virtual worlds are relatively new, but that doesn’t mean that the payment risks and threats surrounding mixed reality-based transactions are brand new and unfamiliar too. Virtual world payments need to solve for many of the same challenges prevalent across transactions in real-world and other digital settings.

These challenges range from managing multicurrency payments efficiently, to ensuring universal know your customer and know your business compliance — and beyond.

Digital wallets have been working to solve for these friction points and risk vectors already in the real world by employing robust encryption and authentication measures to ensure secure payments. This is needed in mixed reality environments where the lines between physical and virtual worlds blur, and users’ personal and financial information must be protected.

Read also: What Businesses Need to Know to Make Money in the Metaverse

Removing Friction From Virtual Payment Experiences

Like traditional eCommerce, one of the biggest benefits of digital wallets on mixed reality headsets is that they can support one-click payments, streamlining the checkout process. This is particularly important in mixed reality environments where convenience is key to enhancing the user experience.

Already, Apple’s mixed reality headset, the Apple Vision Pro supports Apple Pay integration. Meta’s own headset, the Meta Quest, supports PayPal, gift cards and credit cards. It also requires users to link payment options using a mobile device.

As an added benefit, digital wallets can store information about user preferences and purchase history, enabling personalized recommendations and loyalty programs within mixed reality environments. This can enhance user engagement and incentivize repeat transactions, as well as facilitate transactions that bridge both realities, such as ordering physical products that will be delivered to the user’s real-world address.

Still, because mixed reality-driven commerce is still in its infancy, platforms and providers need to ensure their payments infrastructure can support multiple payments options and allow the integration of new methods as they arise.

For more information on virtual world payment systems, the PYMNTS Intelligence report “Enter the Metaverse: The Next Frontier of Digital Commerce” shows how innovators are using payments to make the most of the mixed reality opportunity.

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