Smart devices everywhere could start doing all the shopping and bill paying, firm says


Hate shopping and paying bills? Then there could be good news: Soon, everyday devices will be making automatic “invisible” payments, according to one company.

Here’s the idea: Smart devices, like household electronics or vehicles, will be able to pay for your needs — without you needing to ask for them. Of course, there are major privacy and security concerns with such a technology, but there’s also real promise.

One example could be a re-imagining of the utility bill where “your devices, your television, your fridge, pays for electricity and negotiates electricity prices,” said Phil Pomford, general manager for the Asia-Pacific region at London-listed payment processing company Worldpay.

As the so-called Internet of Things — the idea that every device will be digitally connected —comes to fruition, smart devices will be able to make “invisible payments” by acting as agents on the consumer’s behalf, Pomford told CNBC earlier this week.

“We’re already seeing this with phones, but cars, household electronics like routers and TVs and even the buildings themselves will quickly become part of the payment ecosystem,” he said.

The first step for that prediction is for all devices involved to be connected to the internet. Worldpay expects that number to reach 25 billion devices by 2020, according to Pomford.

“If machines can offer consumers a concierge-style service that reduces day-to-day life admin and menial tasks, then there is no reason why [consumers] won’t want to delegate some of their shopping responsibilities,” Pomford said.

While the convenience appeals to consumers, IoT raises concerns about data security and breaches of privacy. Those fears are holding back consumers from embracing IoT and trusting devices with their payments, Worldpay acknowledges.

“No matter if done by a human or machine, it is vital for consumers to remain in control when they’re delegating payment tasks,” Pomford said.

Consumers in China showed the highest confidence in IoT with 61 percent of consumers surveyed by Worldpay saying they would be comfortable with a device shopping on their behalf.

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