It’s no secret that we’re rapidly evolving into a networked world: Physical debit and credit cards are disappearing, as are coins, banknotes, parking tickets and entertainment tickets. These are being replaced by software, apps in our mobile phones and fitness trackers on our wrists.
The Internet of Things (IoT) builds on this networked concept while driving peace of mind for consumers. In theory, technology built into everyday objects would ensure that you have the items you need when you need them, similar to what happened in your grandmother’s analog days—the baker would deliver the rolls to her house, and if she left her empty milk bottles next to the front door in the evening, there would be just as many full ones the next morning.
With IoT, even your car may soon pay for its own fuel or electricity. However, this is still just a vision. For it to become a reality, we’ll need standardized interfaces, nationwide mobile radio without dead spots and, above all, more customer emphasis.
Real progress always manifests itself in two key indicators, namely user experience (UX) and efficiency. In other words, the networking of existing or new devices for use at home and on the move should make it easier for customers to spend money. Because we are creatures of habit, we often only change our behavior if we are rewarded for it. Psychology trumps technology.
IoT-based solutions for a quick purchase or uncomplicated payment are problem-free wherever they do not trigger conflicts with the competition, and the price is transparent for the customer—for example, when parking, fueling up or using public transport. However, there are very few “things” in the sense of “objects” that play a conceivable role here at all.
By far, the most important of the “things” associated with the Internet makes the term IoT seem absurd: the mobile phone. After all, a smartphone basically serves the same exact purpose as a computer, only with a smaller display. The role of the physical thing is virtually taken over by an app. But nobody talks about IoA, the Internet of Apps.
Originally, “things” meant networkable devices and products that are not computers. Especially those that were not particularly “smart” or interactive, such as electronic door locks, remote-controlled lamps, thermostats, surveillance cameras or wearables. Even this last term is far from its origins.
In contrast to the pioneering days 10 or 15 years ago, it is now rarely a matter of electronic gadgets integrated into clothing, but mostly of standalone mini-computers, which — like fitness watches — are worn directly on the body and relieve the smartphone of tasks. At the other end of the size spectrum, the car becomes a “thing.” But if a mobile phone is a computer, then a modern automobile is a rolling data center that goes online at every available opportunity anyway.
In this respect, IoT today is merely an old-fashioned synonym for the contact between mobile electronics and services in the cloud, whereby “Internet” says nothing about whether things even speak a common language with the infrastructure to be used. What matters is not only the technical means by which communication takes place (directly or indirectly and via NFC, WiFi, 3G, 4G or 5G), but also whether the user’s electronic means of payment are actually accepted.
How are payments made? With fully automated “silent payments.” When a fan orders its new filter, for example, the money on the credit card is only reserved and later debited upon delivery. But many payment methods cannot do that and certainly not worldwide. Thanks to IoT, credit cards will retain their top position for a long time to come, even if only in their digital forms moving forward – along with digital payment solutions like PayPal.
The technology is now in place, and all consumers can make convenient cashless payments anywhere. But, to handle payments via IoT devices, you may need to seek a payment service provider that not only has the right solution for smartphones, but also for every ordering or paying “thing.”
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