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MWC & 4YFN: Biometrics, frictionless travel and 5G will shape the future of digital commerce

By Bill Gajda, Global Head, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships • Visa

March 08, 2019

5G, new use cases for payments in transport, and innovations such as biometrics were key themes at both Mobile World Congress and 4YFN in Barcelona this year. The developments in these areas are set to shape the future of commerce. From enabling quicker transaction processing, to at–a-glance authentication and frictionless travel, we look at how the news from the show floor is paving the way for faster, more convenient and flexible payments.

Importantly, technology advances were all underpinned by the trend towards industry collaboration and partnership. At Mobile World Congress, this theme pointed towards an integrated ecosystem and a faster pace of innovation turning into reality for consumers, while at 4YFN conversations explored how start-ups can scale by partnering with those who can lend knowledge, best practice, global trust, and reach.

The Future of Transport: The industry must work together to enable friction-free commuting

At Mobile World Congress a panel debate delved into research conducted in 19 countries among 19,000 commuters and published by Visa in conjunction with Stanford University. The report highlighted the current transport frustrations amongst consumers and key success factors to overcoming them. With just under half of consumers (46%) surveyed having seen their commuting time increase and over half (52%) frustrated with the experience of using public transport. The central discussion highlighted how partnerships and collaboration between technology companies like Visa with city planners, think tanks, public transportation authorities can help solve consumer pain points, from parking, to congestion.

Bill Gadja, SVP, Global Head, Strategic Partnerships and Innovation again noted that the ability to accelerate friction-free commuting will be ever more important as journeys become increasingly complex and involve multiple modes of transport.

FinTech: Start-up scale up will be driven by collaboration

FinTech disruption is not a topic that often escapes media attention, and this was no exception at 4YFN. Lively workshops and Q&A sessions were held by Anthony Craufurd and Jana Lvova from Visa’s Digital Partnerships & Ventures team on how to achieve scale and growth quickly and securely. With venture capitalists having invested 36.6 billion dollars in fast-growing FinTech companies, according to a report by Innovate Finance , partnerships, knowledge and best practice sharing between businesses were encouraged during these sessions. A focus on scaling without compromising on quality of service and or losing sight of innovation during the growth phase was also highlighted as a top priority for start-ups.

Biometrics will ensure a secure and convenient form of authentication

Biometrics also had its time in the spotlight at both events. More than one large handset operator announced 3D facial recognition on their new models highlighting a shift towards the mainstream. Other use cases for the technology were futuristic: one Spanish bank sought to push the technology even further by demoing an instance of a human payment ‘implant.’

On the Visa stand, visitors could also experience ultra sonic payment technology, through our partner (LISNR). Their demonstration showcased how inaudible audio can transmit payment credentials meaning that in the not too distant future, the transport system will be able to identify and your payment credentials in space with no need to tap to pay.

Both events - Mobile World Congress and 4YFN - are the industry milestones against which technology trends and adoption are benchmarked for the rest of the year. However, many innovations will only turn into a reality if the ecosystem works together. Partnership will enable a cohesive vision for the future of technology adoption and, consequently, payments. As Frederic Maistre, our European Head of Strategic Partnerships, discussed at 4YFN, “We need to give consumers the best possible user experience. The key ingredient for getting this right is collaboration.”

For more information on the Visa Global Study on the Future of Transportation study please see here

For more information on Visa’s FinTech fast-track programme please visit: https://www.visaeurope.com/fintech


1 RCRWireless 2019: https://www.rcrwireless.com/20190219/analyst-angle/5g-mobile-world-congress-analyst-angle

2 5G report by IHS Markit 2019: https://technology.ihs.com/610560/substance-behind-the-hype-5g-smartphones-primed-and-ready-for-fast-rollout

3 VC FinTech Landscape Innovate Finance

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