U.S. consumers could soon see a rise in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) adoption beyond already popular video games, according to a new global study from Worldpay called The 360 consumer: how VR is reshaping the buying experience. Despite only 24 percent of American consumers surveyed having used VR technology at some point, 37 percent of those believe it will become regularly used by everyone – particularly for retail, as 65 percent believe the technology could change the way people shop.
Worldpay’s research – which surveyed 16,000 consumers across Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S. – revealed that globally consumers have high expectations for VR and AR technology, with 55 percent agreeing that the technology will soon become as popular as smartphones. China currently leads the pack for VR adoption, with 93 percent of respondents reporting they would consider buying a product using a VR or AR device. The U.S. falls mid-pack with only 58 percent, while the U.K. and The Netherlands lag further behind with 35 percent and 30 percent respectively.
Though video games are the most popular activity amongst global VR and AR users, the possibilities for the retail industry may soon overshadow it. Fifty-four percent of U.S. consumers surveyed reported that they want to see VR technology in physical stores and 59 percent want to see it used in shopping apps, reporting it as a more fun way of shopping. These numbers surge to 72 percent and 78 percent respectively for the respondents aged 25-34 – demonstrating that younger generations stand to have the greatest impact on businesses choosing to implement VR and AR technology.
This technology also has the potential to increase impulse purchases. Thirty percent of American respondents said the ability to visualize a product or experience in VR or AR would make them more likely to impulse buy. This number jumps to 53 percent for those aged 25-34.
“Virtual reality is quickly becoming a consumer level technology and has the potential to transform the retail landscape by expanding merchants’ interactions beyond just mobile and social,” said Casey Bullock, General Manager for North America at Worldpay. “With virtual and augmented reality, merchants can not only save consumers time, but offer a more immersive shopping experience, and ideally provide payment options that consumers can complete while remaining fully immersed in that world.”
Yet, before retailers can take advantage of this purchasing power, they must first address consumers’ security concerns surrounding the technology. Globally, VR headsets are viewed as the least secure devices to purchase products or services. Only a quarter (27 percent) of American consumers surveyed believe storing payment details in these devices is safe. Others report they would be more comfortable buying products using VR or AR if security advancements, such as fingerprint or retina scanning, passwords, or alternative methods like PayPal, were added.
Despite security concerns, the cost of devices (61 percent) is still the greatest global barrier to people using headsets to buy products and services, with security of payment details (42 percent) coming in second. In the U.S., a lack of opportunity (43 percent), limited need to use VR (34 percent) and a need to address how the technology will support consumers’ everyday lives (30 percent) is also stunting further adoption.
“Although global markets are at very different stages of adoption, they share similar concerns – namely payment security,” said Bullock. “As more companies experiment with VR/AR in their endeavor to drive higher customer engagement, they need to consider if VR technology can support purchases as well. Whatever sales channel, it’s vital to make the payment process both slick and secure for customers. A compelling, immersive and seamless VR experience may even have the capability to increase sales.”
In response to this, researchers at Worldpay are investigating how shoppers can pay using a credit or debit card while remaining immersed in a virtual environment. The global payments processor has created a proof of concept, which provides the same levels of convenience, and security, that shoppers have in-store and online, without needing to leave the virtual world.
The prototype design uses Host Card Emulation (HCE) to virtualize the purchasing process. The payment uses EMV* technology and works in the same way a contactless payment does – with a tap of the (virtual) card across a (virtual) card machine. For higher value purchases, Worldpay has created a technology called AirPIN. This first of its kind AirPIN allows the consumer to see a range of numbers while immersed in the virtual environment, and then collect the four numbers that make up their PIN, one by one, using their virtual controller.
* EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, and is a global standard for credit and debit cards that uses computer chips to authenticate (and secure) chip-card transactions.
About the data
The research was conducted by research house Opinium in March 2017 and interviewed 16,000 consumers who have heard about Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality in Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, the United States of America and United Kingdom. The full report The 360 consumer: how VR is reshaping the buying experience is available upon request.
Worldpay is a leading payments company with global reach. We provide an extensive range of technology-led payment products and services to around 400,000 customers, enabling their businesses to grow and prosper. We manage the increasing complexity of the payments landscape for our customers, allowing them to accept the widest range of payment types around the world. Using our network and technology, we are able to process payments from geographies covering 99 percent of global GDP, across 146 countries and 126 currencies. We help our customers to accept more than 300 different payment types.
For more information, visit http://www.worldpay.com/global