From our Studio to your Wallet: On the Pulse of Payments Innovations

Mark Holt, EVP, Chief Information Officer at Incomm, and Technology Disruptor.
Mark Holt, EVP, Chief Information Officer at Incomm, and Technology Disruptor.

Mark Holt, EVP, Chief Information Officer at Incomm, and Technology Disruptor.

What do you think of when you hear the word wallet? Probably a classic leather rectangle, full of cash and cards? But what did you use for your last purchase? What will you use next? I’m not breaking new ground here; you know as well as I do that payments look different today than they did five, 10, or 50 years ago. What’s impressive is the rate of change.

  Our ideas will live and die by their effectiveness and applicability to the customer experience. We’ll move quickly, and we won’t be afraid to fail gracefully; quality will be tested and functionality determined before any solution runs out of the gates. 

Adoption rates are exponential in our connected world – and retail is right in the thick of it. Purchasing increasingly occurs through devices and on demand. According to joint research from the National Retail Foundation and Forrester, 83 percent of retailers describe themselves as multichannel in 2018, and 40 percent listed omnichannel scenarios as a top priority over the next 18 months. Leaving the house without card or coin, once unthinkable is increasingly tenable and soon to become an expectation as the future generations set the pace. Even within the traditional wallet, credit cards are equipped with contactless payments technology, and gift cards can be loaded digitally. Countries are also phasing out the penny.

A Legacy of Innovation

Innovation is in InComm’s DNA. Brooks Smith has evolved what began in 1992 as a prepaid calling card company into a global payment giant with 369 patents and 500,000 points of distribution, transforming commerce with payments technologies and solutions across a broad swath of industries. I joined InComm in 2018 because of the promise of further disruption and advancements in the payments field; because I saw in Brooks a true innovative spirit, and I couldn’t turn down a chance to join the revolution.

The era of commerce we’re entering, as I’ve mentioned, is evolving rapidly. The impact of contextual business – the seamless implementation of purchase opportunities into everyday activities and natural situations – is felt by brick-and-mortar retailers, who are continually adapting to keep pace with online powerhouses, simultaneously assessing today’s retail marketplace and envisioning tomorrow’s. Competing means maximizing customer convenience by enabling purchasing whenever the need arises. Once-novel ideas like one-click ordering, mobile payment options, and omnichannel connectivity linking mobile, store and browser experiences, all optimized for the fastest experience possible, is becoming the norm.

Customer service, too, remains paramount. Too often, the hype around a particular tech takes precedence over the user experience. My pet phrase is “be customer-obsessed.” The customer’s experience will measure the ultimate success of a payments solution. As InComm contributes to these trends in payment technologies, we keep one question at the forefront: “How do we create a rich and frictionless experience for the customer?” Our technology should result in secure, Omni channel transactions that can be completed in under two seconds, making life easier for our retail partners and their customers alike.

Ideas Today

Nowhere will our commitment to customer-first payments innovations be more evident than in our innovation studio, scheduled to open in Fourth Quarter 2019. This space, currently being constructed at our Atlanta headquarters, will have all the high-tech trimmings you’d expect from a forward-thinking organization, but the studio’s foundation will be the bright minds coming together to create solutions that make payments more comfortable, faster, and more intuitive. We want to engage our partners, sharp import students from local universities and collaborate across departments to create an environment brimming with inspired thinking. From the studio, we’ll be brainstorming, developing, and testing payments technology solutions that help shape the continuously evolving FinTech industry.

Having this physical space will help harness our innovative drive. Our ideas will live and die by their effectiveness and applicability to the customer experience. We’ll move quickly, and we won’t be afraid to fail gracefully; quality will be tested and functionality determined before any solution runs out of the gates. Not every concept will graduate from ideation to commercialization, but the more grand visions we have swirling around, the more payment solutions we’ll create.

Payments Tomorrow

Which brings us back to your wallet. You see, we’re poised on the edge of a payments revolution. Transformative ideas such as augmented reality, IoT, connected homes, and intelligent virtual assistants are already here. As machine learning improves and more in-depth consumer data is made available, predictive modeling will open up more significant opportunities for consumers to engage with an inter-connected world of technology, with an impact well beyond transactional payments. Right now, your devices likely house an e-wallet capable of storing your payment credentials and making purchases with your voice or gestures, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What goes in your wallet, what supplements your purse, and what is a portfolio are all, in this brave new digital world, subject to change. At InComm, we’re uniquely positioned to be a leader in such an exciting time for FinTech. And the fun part is, we’re thinking the same thing you are: what’s next?

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