Where’s your money going in the Future of Retail stakes?

By Simon Binns, Commercial Director • Sthaler

July 20, 2016

Biometrics was a key topic in our ‘Secure Futures’ session at Visa Futures this year. To give you an alternative perspective from a start-up, Simon Binns, Commercial Director of Sthaler discusses it’s growing potential.

There are a few racing certainties in the world of retail right now. Everyone loves a one way bet, and if they don’t they should. Unfortunately, it appears from current state of affairs, there are some things we can be sure of:

  • As e- and m-commerce continue to increase, we will continue to see new developments in technology in the ongoing fight against fraudsters
  • The high street will be an increasingly difficult place for non-food retailers who cannot create a seamless experience between their online and in-store experiences – while in-store, point of sale shopping and e-commerce become more fragmented for these retailers
  • Our mobile devices, and the technology powering them, will be personal mission control and will scour our world for what we want before we know we want it.
  • The money that we currently use every day is going to start looking and feeling very different. Cash, all $11 trillion of it in circulation at present, will steadily disappear

Cash itself, ironically, is a real burden for a business

Anywhere up to 15% is lost in counting, banking, theft and physical security. Spending will not be a notes and coins game but touch and tokens instead. And the odds of this happening – I’ll take 5-1 on any of the above not to be true. Or 625-1 on none of it happening.

So as those four horses of incontestable trends gallop past the post, what does it all mean for the thousands of retail and finance businesses trying to compete in their own race?

First, a word on how to read the form book. One tip should inform all responses: don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. Or in this case, as technology created the seismic shifts, technology must be the thing you master and build your strategy around. But a means without an end is activity but no progress. A riderless horse. As the ‘end’ is of course winning sales, and they are only going to happen when that elusive combination of price, quality (physical and intangible) trust and convenience all line up.

So what possible fix out there can help reduce fraud, address the decline in traditional retail, optimise the smartphone as store, bank and map and the end of the days of cash? Well there is one thing I’ve put my money on. Real money, real world. Biometrics.

Let’s forget technology for a moment

Where’s your money going in the Future of Retail stakes?

Just think about who — not what — is changing. It’s us. You and me. We’re changing because there are better ways to do the things we want. And when you boil it down it’s a simple series of transactions. You confirming your identity to access your money. You spending your money. Biometrics can connect the old and new world of retail with ‘you’, or at least your unique ID, securely stored as a biometric. Check-in in store. Browse, make your choices and then go home to purchase with a quick biometric login at home.

Imagine no longer having to carry a wallet stuffed with plastic and paper. That ‘you’ being there and ‘you’ proving ‘you’ are who you say ‘you’ are was enough to settle the bill, buy that round or pay the taxi driver. No cash, no card, no pin. Never lose a receipt because they were digital and linked to your biometric. Never miss an offer, all simply linked to your identity and automated, whilst you remain anonymous without having to give any personal information.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? As with many things, the answer was there all along. We just didn’t know how to make it work. As major retailers are waking up to new very practical biometrics like Vein ID can be, watch biometrics charge to the front of the pack, come up on the rails and leave them all behind. Or for a more actionable tip check out what we at Sthaler are doing to prepare our own biometric tool, Fingopay, for launch in the UK next month.

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