IBM, Visa partner to make the Internet of things commerce friendly

IBM will connect its Watson IoT platform with Visa's token technology to allow devices to conduct commerce on your behalf. The move may enable new business models.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

IBM and Visa envision a world where things will be trusted to conduct commerce for you. Welcome to the intersection of the Internet of things and commerce.

Visa and IBM are forming a partnership that will connect the credit card company's token technology and the Watson IoT platform. While this partnership isn't yielding customer facing technology yet, both companies see new business models emerging. Visa powers 60 percent of the world's payments.

Bret Greenstein, vice president of IBM Watson IoT's consumer and digital business, explained how "each thing with our permission can make purchases on our behalf." No screens and no swipes needed. In Visa and IBM's vision of commerce, various endpoints would be authorized to buy goods. Also see:

An example would be a coffeemaker that is resupplied and charges you on a per cup basis. Another possibility would be a device in the supply chain that allocates a purchase to the correct cost center within a company. Printers and copiers would be obvious markets as would small business needs. Automobiles and appliances are also possibilities.

"Things may act on your behalf and it's possible companies can enter new markets," said Greenstein. The general idea is that things-as-a-service could become real.

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These models would be straightforward for any business that revolves around consumables. Food, recipes that are supplied with ingredients and healthcare are possible markets.

As for the technology, Visa and IBM would deploy a token sharing architecture that ties a device that's managed by Big Blue's cloud infrastructure. Visa's Token Service gives information found on payment cards a unique digital identifier. IBM's IoT cloud would manage these tokens and connect them to devices.

For IBM, the Visa partnership is part of a broader view of commerce that includes Blockchain technologies too. IBM's Watson IoT unit is aiming to provide access to as many as 20 billion devices for Visa over the next five years.

IBM and Visa outlined the partnership at the Genius of Things Summit in Munich. The summit serves as a coming out party for IBM's Munich IoT hub. Other items outlined at the IoT powwow include:

  • French Railways operator SNCF said it will use Watson's IoT cloud platform for customer service improvements, security and maintenance. SCNF is deploying sensors on tracks and trains and will collect real-time analytics.
  • Arrow Electronics and Indiegogo will partner with IBM to provide discounts on cloud services to entrepreneurs to better scale startups. Arrow provides technology, design and production expertise; Indiegogo crowd sources funding and IBM provides IoT and cloud services.
  • Bosch will make its industrial IoT suite available on IBM's Bluemix and Watson IoT platform.
  • IBM said it will co-locate development teams at its Munich IoT hub with Avnet, BNP Paribas, CapGemini and Tech Mahindra. Vodafone will also develop industry focused IoT products.
  • Ricoh and IBM will collaborate on a Watson powered interactive whiteboard that features voice technology, note taking ability, translation and analytics. IBM will install 80 Ricoh interactive whiteboards in Munich.
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