Merchant Payments: How Customer Expectations and Experiences Will Change by 2030

merchant paymentsImagine a world where you’re out with friends and you ask, “Where did you get that t-shirt from?” It’s a vintage tee that they found at a boutique store on holiday in London. But you’re in Sydney. But it’s 2030, so it doesn’t matter.

Your augmented glasses have already scanned the t-shirt as they heard you were asking where your friend found it. They’ve found that the boutique has an e-commerce store and within 10 seconds you’re presented with an option to order one and it be delivered within the next 7 days. You didn’t enter a single piece of information, not even your shirt size.

In the ever-evolving landscape of commerce, the way customers make payments has seen dramatic transformations in recent years. The convergence of in-store and online payments, the rise of tap-on-phone and devices, social media payments, real-time transactions, and the insatiable consumer demand for instant gratification are reshaping the payment industry.

As we look forward to 2030, what are the key themes that are set to revolutionise the customer experience?

The Seamless Fusion of In-Store and Online Payments

I remember watching a video as an IBM Graduate back in 2005 that showed a customer picking up groceries and putting them in their coat at a supermarket. At first you thought they were shoplifting but then as he walked out the store, a payment notification was shown on a smart watch, it was the first indication of a checkout-less experience, which Amazon made a reality only recently, almost 20 years after the concept.

Traditionally, in-store and online payments were treated as distinct entities, each with its own set of processes and technologies. However, the boundary separating these two worlds has now become increasingly blurred. Shoppers now expect the same level of convenience whether they’re in a brick-and-mortar store or browsing a website. Now this isn’t new, but by 2030, the distinction between in-store and online payments will have all but disappeared, it will be seamless.

Retailers are adopting unified payment platforms that allow customers to seamlessly transition from shopping in a physical store to completing their purchase online, and vice versa. Even today, shoppers, can start their purchases on their smartphones, seamlessly continue in-store, and complete the transaction from the comfort of their homes.

Moreover, with the introduction of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies, customers will have the ability to virtually try on products, significantly enhancing their shopping experience. Payment integration within these immersive environments will be essential to provide a frictionless path from exploration to purchase.

The Death of Terminals?

The rise of contactless payments, exemplified by tap-to-pay technology, has been one of the most notable developments in recent years. By 2030, this trend will have reached its zenith, with tap on phone and wearable devices becoming the de facto standard for payments.

We’re already in a world where your smartphone or smartwatch serves as your wallet. With a simple tap, you can make payments securely and effortlessly.
This level of convenience is not only appealing to consumers but also streamlines the checkout process for merchants, reducing wait times and enhancing
overall customer satisfaction.

The ubiquity of tap on phone and devices will extend beyond traditional retail and as a result, the need for physical cash will diminish, marking a significant step towards a cashless society.

Where Commerce Meets Community

In the coming decade, social media platforms will evolve from mere communication tools into full-fledged shopping destinations. Social commerce will become the norm, and users will be able to make purchases directly through their favourite platforms.

Picture this: you’re scrolling through your favourite social media app, and you stumble upon a product that catches your eye. With a single click, you can view product details, read reviews, and make a purchase, all without leaving the app. Social media payments will be tightly integrated with user experiences, and AI algorithms will personalise product recommendations based on your interests and social connections.

The lines between influencers and merchants will also blur. Brands will collaborate with influencers to create immersive, personalised, and interactive shopping experiences.

Real-Time Payments: Satisfying the Need for Instant Gratification

In the age of instant messaging and on-demand services, consumers have grown accustomed to getting what they want, when they want it.
This “everything right now” mentality extends to payments.

Real-time payments are becoming the new standard, driven by faster payment networks and blockchain technology.

Moreover, merchants will leverage real-time payment data to provide personalised offers and rewards in the moment. Imagine receiving a discount coupon for your favourite restaurant immediately after making a purchase at a nearby store. Real-time payments will not only satisfy the need for immediacy but also unlock hyper-personalised marketing opportunities.

Remember that scene from Minority Report?

AI’s Role in Ubiquity and Invisibility of Payments

At the heart of these transformative changes lies artificial intelligence. AI will play a pivotal role in making payments ubiquitous and virtually invisible. AI-powered algorithms will analyse consumer behaviour and preferences to deliver personalised payment options and recommendations. For example, if a customer often shops for groceries on Sundays, the AI might suggest setting up an automatic payment for that recurring expense. This level of convenience will make payments feel almost automatic.

Furthermore, AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants will handle payment-related queries and tasks, making customer support more efficient. Whether it’s checking the status of a chargeback, refund or updating payment information, customers will receive instant assistance.

In conclusion, the landscape of merchant payments in 2030 is set to be a realm of seamless integration, where in-store and online payments converge, tap on phone and devices rule the day, social media platforms evolving into bustling shopping hubs, real-time transactions meeting instant gratification, and AI furthering the ubiquity and invisibility of payments while enhancing personalised experiences.

As technology continues to advance and consumer expectations evolve, the payment industry must pivot to align with the needs of the modern shopper. Embracing these changes will not only benefit businesses but also create a more convenient and enjoyable shopping experience for customers globally.

The hardest thing for payments will be keeping up.


This article was first published by The Paypers in their Payment Methods Report 2023.

Payments Consulting Network is an Endorsement Partner for The Paypers.


Author: Adam Caines, Associate, Sydney, Payments Consulting Network

Adam brings over 18 years of experience in product and technology, specialising in payments and fintech. He’s held senior roles in London and Sydney, including global exposure at a Big 4 consultancy. In Australia, Adam’s extensive experience includes building and launching payments products for fintechs and large financial institutions.


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