Visa, Samsung look toward more connected form factors for digital payments future

Samsung Pay's global chief suggests it's the "instantaneous gratification" quality behind mobile payments that will be necessary for instilling new consumer habits going forward.

SAN FRANCISCO---As EMV -- or chip and pin -- payment methods finally start to infiltrate American stores this fall, Samsung and Visa are among some of the tech and financial industry titans brainstorming beyond the plastic card (and even smartphones) altogether.

"I think we're operating under the philosophy that any device that can become transactional will be transactional," said Sam Shrauger, senior vice president of Visa's digital solutions unit, during a kickoff event for the 2016 Olympic Games at Visa's Global Headquarters on Wednesday.

Shrauger briefly outlined some of the capabilities that Visa has been building for its worldwide payments network over the last 18 months, which he stressed have been driven by the goal of enabling whatever the next great innovation for shopping and payments will be.

The Visa executive speculated we'll see the payment platform weaved into wearable devices, even possibly sensors embedded on clothing among other consumer goods.

"This technology can be anywhere," concurred Injong Rhee, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics and global head for Samsung Pay, during the panel discussion.

As more and more of these devices become connected, observed Shrauger, whether it's a point-of-sale system at the checkout counter or an automobile, these familiar touch points are offering new utilities. That same concept can be applied to the traditional plastic credit card, Shrauger suggested.

Rhee speculated that it won't be that far into the future where consumers map their lives along with virtual objects, predicting that virtual reality is "definitely the future."

"Your smartphone can understand you much better and predict more things in advance," Rhee remarked, arguing the data generated on mobile platforms make the entire experience more "emotional" than just casually responding to any electronic device.

Still, between Apple Pay and Google Wallet (and now Android Pay, among other digital payment offerings that have emerged over the last few years), mobile payments via smartphones are only now starting to take hold with merchants and consumers alike.

Samsung's own venture, Samsung Pay, launched a month ago in South Korea with a full-scale roll out within the United States very soon.

Samsung Pay has already processed approximately $30 million in transaction volume to date, according to Rhee, describing this to have exceeded Samsung's expectations already. He added "tens of thousands" of new users are signing up and activating Samsung Pay each day.

Rhee concluded it is the "instantaneous gratification" quality to mobile payments that will be necessary for influencing and instilling new consumer habits going forward.