There is a paradigm shift coming as the retail experience moves from being centred on checking out to checking in, but an industry observer warns of possible privacy issues and discrimination against low-income people.

In the August issue of Admap (topic: the future of payments), David G.W. Birch, a thought leader in digital identity and digital money, contrasts what frequently happens now, when a consumer shops and pays via QR code or contactless card, with a future exemplified by Amazon Go stores, where shoppers activate the Amazon app on their phone, take what they need and are automatically billed when they leave the store.

“It isn’t simply about payment convenience,” he says, although there’s certainly a big element of that too.

“It’s about a fundamental change in the dynamics of the retail environment and an entirely new battleground for brands, some of which have not been seen in this loop before.”

The coming transition from checking out to checking in is everything, he argues.

“If the first time that a retailer finds out who you are is when you are paying on your way out, there’s not much opportunity to deliver a better service,” he points out in his article Cashless stores, consumer identity and data privacy.

“On the other hand, when the retailer knows who you are as soon as you step through the door, there is a world of opportunity to serve you in new ways.”

But when a retailer shifts from recognising your money to recognising the individual, there is a privacy issue, he cautions. For many, however, the sheer convenience of mobile payments makes it too convenient to opt out.

Policymakers are wary of the societal effects of such cashless stores, with some US cities requiring retailers to accept cash to avoid discriminating against low-income people who don’t have a bank account or payment apps. The most recent Amazon Go store to open, in New York, is the only one where shoppers can pay with cash.

Facebook’s launch of its Libra cryptocurrency also prompts Birch to imagine a future where brands might operate their own currencies, raising the prospect that the battle might no longer be for the brand of the payment instrument or the financial institution sitting behind it.

This issue of Admap on the future of payments features articles by thought leaders from across the globe. WARC subscribers can access a deck which summarises the expert advice from contributors and key considerations on the topic.

Sourced from Admap