SUMMARY: Sadly 'virtual reality payments' are a lot like reality payments.
We’re edging towards a glorious world of VR, a future where we’ll have incredible digital experiences, and shopping is going to play a major part.
Whether you’re strolling into an ASOS-branded virtual clothes department, exploring IKEA’s VR kitchen design studio, or taking Audi’s latest coupé for a virtual spin.
But, once you’ve fallen in love with your new car or kitchen in VR, how will you buy it for real?
Yesterday, I found out.
Worldpay is one of the world’s largest payments processors, you’ve probably spotted their logo on the card machine in your local coffee joint.
But Worldpay is understandably concerned, what will happen if we move into virtual worlds to buy stuff and stop using their physical card machines?
It’s probably bad news, so they built a virtual card machine instead…
It’s actually not as nuts as it sounds, pulling a digital bank card in a virtual room while wearing an HTC Vive headset, and holding the card against a virtual contactless card reader.
Nick Telford-Reed, Worldpay’s director of technology innovation, tells me it’s actually the smartest way to create virtual payments that people actually trust:
“You’re already asking the consumer to jump into a virtualised reality, so giving them the reassurance of physical cues that they would get from [physical] payments is about making it as easy as possible in what’s otherwise a novel environment.”
Worldpay’s demo even gives you a reassuring vibration when your payment is accepted, so maybe it’s even better than real life contactless?
Remember your PIN
But what about when you’re making a high value payment, maybe you decide to buy that Audi or a new kitchen?
Well, Telford-Reed and his team have a solution for that too, which sadly still requires you to remember your PIN.
Popping up a PIN pad would be the obvious answer but, given someone could be watching your every move without you knowing, it’s not a great idea.
Instead Worldpay ‘shard’ the pin pad, placing numbers randomly all around you for you to tap.
That way even if someone copies your movements, the numbers won’t be in the same place when they try.
It’s a pretty great idea and, after some twisting and turning, I quickly got the hang of it.
The future of payments
Once the glorious world of virtual reality arrives, Worldpay will certainly be there ready to take your money.
They’ll even have some nifty ideas to keep your cash safe in VR.
But I suppose for me, what’s most disappointing about the future of virtual retail and virtual payments, is that the future looks so much like the past.