Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 2
Consumers love saving money almost as much as they hate waiting in line, which is
why they are looking to U.S. and Canadian retailers to provide new ways to make the
in-store payment process more convenient.This is spurring retailers to improve their
checkout environment and putting pressure on traditional credit card providers to
experiment with new technologies. At the same time, social media influencer ranking
service Klout.com is helping to create new forms of barter, while loyalty exchange
services like Points.com are forcing companies to rethink their approach to loyalty.
To help retailers navigate these changes, Nurun has prepared a report that identifies
and describes six key retail transactions and payments trends:
Trend 1: Retailers experiment with Uber-convenient transactions
The retail flexibility and consumer-friendly nature of Uber and Square is helping to
improve in-store payment options.
Trend 2: Credit cards seek new partnerships to remain relevant
Emerging payment systems are forcing traditional providers to seek out new industry
Trend 3: Making sure loyalty programs reward loyal customers
Companies are rethinking loyalty due to services such as Points.com that make
Trend 4: Digital currency creates a more open approach to payment
The development of new currencies could improve the technical infrastructure
behind digital wallets.
Our research also uncovered a handful of smaller trends in retail transactions and
payments that do not yet warrant a full description. However, we believe that both of
the following mini trends merit inclusion in this report given their rapid uptake and
Mini Trend 1: Bartering social capital for actual capital
Klout and improved social media measurement tools are facilitating new forms of
Mini Trend 2: Bought by many, enjoyed by one
Sites such as SocialGift make it possible to share the cost of an expensive gift across
many people, while still providing acknowledgement to individual gift givers.
Along with a thought-provoking look at each of these six trends, this report contains
a series of forward-thinking questions that will help retailers consider how to evolve
their transactions and payments approach.
A complete strategic foresight report that incorporates these six retail transactions
and payments trends, along with key retail trends relating to marketing and
merchandising, business models, analytics and emerging technology platforms, will
be released later this year. (Our first trend report on Marketing and Merchandising
is available here. Our second trend report on Business Models is available here).
Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 3
Manage the ambiguous future with
Daily blog posts. Monthly magazines. Quarterly trend reports. Must-read
books. Anyone who works at the intersection of technology and people is
swimming in information.This data smog can make deciphering the
implications of the latest tech and social developments difficult. One solution
is strategic foresight, which can help you make sense of emerging trends and
clearly evaluate your options for the future. It’s a tool to manage risk when
facing ambiguity in the marketplace.
Strategic foresight doesn’t predict the future, but it does help prepare you for
it by envisioning a number of different, yet possible, future states in the
market landscape 10+ years from now.These future states are often described
as a set of scenarios, and they emerge from an analysis of current trends.
So, as a simple example, the increasing popularity of pop-up retail spaces,
combined with the high adoption of mobile devices, could develop into a
future filled with transient storefronts.This scenario would be made possible
due to the minimal wired infrastructure required for information and
The rapid uptake of technology means that our social lives, cultural
experiences, policies, regulations, ecological landscape, and business models
are increasingly intertwined.Through its very design, strategic foresight is
built to accommodate complexity by considering trends from a
Steps of strategic foresight
Identify trend drivers
Evaluate critical uncertainties
Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 4
Why Retail Foresight?
The Nurun Strategic Foresight team has launched a strategic foresight
initiative to articulate the future of business-to-consumer (“B2C”) retail and
commerce, and explore implications for Canadian and U.S. retailers.The
scenarios we generate will give our retail clients the toolkit necessary to start
imagining (and preparing for) the possible futures in the marketplace.
The first of seven steps in the strategic foresight process involves trend
scanning.The trends we capture will be published as a series of trend
reports that focus on five domains of importance to both online and
This is the third of five trend reports, and it looks at retail through the lens
of transactions & payments. Next will be a report on analytics, followed by
emerging technology platforms.The culmination of trend scanning and
subsequent phases will inform future scenarios in our final stratgic foresight
report. For more information, you can follow the project on Nurun’s blog,
Digital for Real Life or subscribe to our email list,
Steps of strategic foresight
Identify trend drivers
Evaluate critical uncertainties
Marketing and Merchandising
Transactions & Payments
Emerging Technology Platforms
Preparing for the Future of
Retail: A Strategic Foresight
Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 5
Retailers experiment with
The retail experience continues to evolve thanks to digital in-store innovations.
But when it comes to paying for purchases, most retailers have struggled to innovate
beyond self-serve kiosks.The result is a payment “traffic jam” that can significantly
degrade the retail experience for consumers.
In response, forward-thinking retailers such as Starbucks and Apple are drawing
inspiration from the seamless payment services offered by companies such as Square
and Uber, as they try and improve the retail payment experience. (Square uses a
mobile credit card reader that allows retailers to process payments from almost
anywhere. Uber, meanwhile, is a taxi app that combines smartphone technology with
credit card payment to deliver invisible transactions.) Much of the current focus
centers on digital payment options for smartphones that will increase consumer
convenience and improve retail efficiency.
Barcodes for baristas
The widespread adoption of smartphones is driving innovative approaches to retail
payment such as the Starbucks app, which is linked to a customer’s coffee card
account. Customers can pay using this app, which displays a unique barcode
onscreen that is scanned by a Starbucks clerk with a UPC reader. Other retailers and
payment companies are starting to use onscreen barcodes as an intermediate step on
the road toward fully integrated digital wallets.
Tap to pay
Various digital payment providers are competing to establish partnerships and find
widespread industry acceptance. Until that happens, credit cards that feature
PayWave or PayPass options, along with Interac Flash (Acxsys Corporation, 2012),
are helping consumers feel more comfortable with Near Field Communication
(NFC) technology. Embedded inside a credit or debit card, NFC provides greater
convenience for both retailer and consumer, as it eliminates the need to swipe, sign
or enter a PIN to authorize small payments.The recent launch of MasterPass from
MasterCard (2013) will link digital wallets, traditional credit cards and simplify the
online checkout process. Since it securely stores user payment and account
information, including addresses, MasterPass will allow consumers to skip past
time-consuming form fields during the online c heckout process.This type of online
payment approach could also help lower cart abandonment rates.
Apple iOS Passbook
Digital wallets are one of the most promising methods of improving the checkout
experience. However, adoption rates for digital wallets are currently low. According
to a February 4, 2013, comScore press release, “Digital wallets represent an
innovative technology that has not yet reached critical mass among consumers due
to a variety of factors, including low awareness and a muddied understanding of
their benefits.” At the same time, this technology has gained a higher profile thanks
to Apple’s Passbook, which was introduced as part of iOS 6 last year. Designed to
store boarding passes, tickets for sporting events and gift cards, Passbook offers the
opportunity for retailers to provide a more fluid and location-aware customer
1 3 42
Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 6
In the summer of 2012,Walmart began experimenting with a “Scan & Go” iPhone
app that allows shoppers to scan items as they shop (Siwicki, 2013 & Wohl, 2012).
When shopping is complete, the app generates a unique QR code that can be read
by the self-checkout kiosk, allowing the customer to commence payment.This
system also allows customers to place their items in bags before they reach the
checkout area, providing an even faster checkout experience. In March of this year,
Walmart announced that it will be expanding the Scan & Go trial to over 200 stores
in more than 12 different U.S. cities, including Dallas, Seattle, San Jose, CA, and
Portland, OR (Wohl, 2013).
Given slow adoption rates, retailers will need to ease consumers into digital
payments and wallets through a series of intermediate steps.This might mean
pairing old and new payment technologies to minimize the consumer learning curve.
But a wider variety of payment options will only benefit retailers if accompanied by
consumer rewards such as “fast and flawless” checkout experiences (Tode, 2013) or
the ability to skip long lines through pre-payment. In some cases, this might
necessitate redesigning checkout areas to accommodate multiple types of
transactional situations to eliminate consumer confusion.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone is now compatible
with standard red-laser barcode scanners thanks to a
technology called Mobeam (2013). How can you
integrate barcode coupons and related promotions into
your mobile retail strategy?
How should you change your online checkout process to
best accommodate diverse payment options such as gift
cards, credit cards, PayPal, Stripe and MasterPass?
1 3 42Trend
Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 7
Credit cards seek new partnerships to
Despite the introduction of technologies such as PayWave and PayPass, legacy
players like VISA and MasterCard are now being threatened by small, low-cost
payment solutions like Square. Emerging technology options represent a challenge
to traditional credit card providers and have spurred new strategic partnerships and
A bank, a phone maker and a Telco walk into a retailer
In Canada, CIBC, BlackBerry and Rogers recently partnered on a pilot launch of
an NFC-enabled secure SIM card (Fitton, 2012).This combination of technology
allows customers to use their BlackBerry 9900 to pay for purchases using a PayWave
or PayPass terminal.The exchange is accomplished through a “Suretap” NFC SIM
card provided by Rogers, which is linked to a CIBC credit card. BlackBerry has also
announced a partnership with VISA for a related payment solution called Secure
Element Manager NFC (Marketwire, 2013).
Credit cards get social
Invigorating the traditional credit card can also involve more straightforward
technology partnerships. American Express now offers a card that users can sync
with their Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare accounts (Carr, 2012).
By partnering with various social media platforms, cardholders can earn savings
from brands such as Best Buy,Whole Foods and Zappos. And as of February 2013,
consumers can also purchase items from within their Twitter account through the
use of special hashtags (Duryee, 2013).
PayPal moves offline
As multi-channel retailers continue to blend e-commerce with in-store retail, they
are now looking to integrate payment methods. PayPal has partnered with NCR,
a Point-of-System provider, to deliver retail payment solutions that don’t require a
significant investment in new technology (Perez, 2013). Customers use a PIN code
or a swipeable PayPal credit card to deduct money from their account using
existing payment terminals. Participating retailers include RadioShack, American
Eagle Outfitters,The Home Depot and Toys “R” Us. And Jamba Juice is now using
PayPal to allow customers to pre-order and pay for their food or drinks via mobile so
they can bypass the line (Rao, 2013).
Retailer created payment solutions
It’s important to realize that payment systems are not simply foisted upon retailers.
Last summer, a consortium of merchants, including Sears, Best Buy,Target and
Walmart formed the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) to offer “consumers a
customer-focused, versatile and seamlessly integrated mobile-commerce platform”
Consumer comfort with credit cards offers legacy payment providers a competitive
advantage. As Chantal Tode, Associate Editor of Mobile Commerce Daily, notes in a
March 11, 2013, article, the current challenge for retailers is to offer multiple
payment options, including PayPal, but with the knowledge that “consumers will
dictate the payment form factors that retailers will have to accept.”
Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 8
In general, digital wallets and other forms of payment innovation will require a
commitment to ongoing experimentation. As David McKay, head of Canadian
banking at RBC, told the Globe and Mail in July of 2012, “It is one massive
speed-dating exercise right now … Everybody is talking to everybody because
nobody knows what the winning combination is yet, so everybody’s keeping their
options open” (Robertson, 2012).
Is there an existing technology ecosystem you could
partner with to enhance your retail payment experience
2 31Trend 4
Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 9
Making sure loyalty programs reward
A number of smartphone apps such as Stocard, Gyft, Checkout 51 and Passbook
now make it easier to collect and manage loyalty points, cards and programs.These
apps will also make it possible to trade or exchange loyalty points across programs,
an approach popularized by sites such as Points.com.These developments suggest
that retailers will need to reconsider what loyalty means in an era of interchangeable
Exchanging points devalues loyalty
In a recent LoyaltyShares.com blog post, Paul Hebert noted that the trend toward
an open economy of interchangeable loyalty points means that, “there will be a day
in the future where points/miles become just another currency—as ubiquitous and
fungible as cash” (2012).The problem with an open economy, according to Hebert,
is that it erodes loyalty and teaches consumers to seek out the most points, rather
than developing a long-term relationship with a particular brand.
Earning points beyond purchases
Some retailers have begun thinking about how to reward customers for actions
other than purchases. In an interview with Direct Marketing News, Michael Jaconi,
CEO of Rakuten Loyalty argued that “rewarding consumers for day-to-day online
action[s]” is one way retailers can create more innovative loyalty programs (Joe,
2012). Xbox LIVE rewards is one example of this approach, giving points to players
who interact with the brand through surveys, referrals or online community events
(Microsoft Corporation, 2012). Meanwhile, mobile app shopkick delivers a reward
to customers for simply walking into a participating retailer’s store (shopkick Inc.,
In a December 2012 Forbes.com article, BigDoor CEO Keith Smith argued that
established brands should add a digital layer to their loyalty programs so they can
reward social media engagement, website visits and other multi-channel behavior
(Clay, 2012). In many cases, these approaches need to be combined with a less open
model of points exchange in order to encourage a stronger loyalty relationship.
Retailers can reinforce online consumer behavior through the use of cross-channel
options for earning and redeeming loyalty point rewards. For certain brands there
is also an opportunity to integrate gamification techniques to encourage increased
social media activity or the use of branded mobile apps. In order to achieve success,
rewards for non-purchasing behavior must be fair, realistic and clearly explained.
How can you expand your loyalty program to take advantage of the
multi-channel environment your customers currently inhabit?
How might you extend loyalty beyond purchases to include brand
advocacy and social media engagement in order to deepen the
Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 10
Digital currency creates a more open
approach to payment
The technical architecture that makes digital payment transmission possible has
historically been an inflexible and closed system (O’Connor, 2003). But there is an
increasing shift to adopt a more open infrastructure for payments due to a
combination of more efficient technology, experiments with decentralized forms of
virtual cash and new security standards (O’Connor, 2003).
Make payment open and easy
Efforts are being made to create global standards for web-based payments thanks to
the Web Payments Community Group (W3C, 2013) and PaySwarm (Digital Bazaar,
2010), an open web standard that enables micropayments for digital content. Small
organizations such as Stripe (2013) are also supporting this shift by making it easier
and cost-effective for retailers to offer secure digital transactions by eliminating the
need to create a merchant account or gateway.
The Government of Canada recently eliminated one form of micropayment with
its decision to phase out the penny. At the same time, it recently concluded an open
competition to develop a digital currency called MintChip that will allow for safe
and secure micropayments between retailers and individuals (ChallengePost Inc.,
2012).This means that although the physical penny will soon disappear, a digital
replacement might eventually take its place.
Bitcoin operated retail
Bitcoin is a decentralized, anonymous and cryptographic-based form of virtual
cash that has gained prominence due to the recent banking instability in Cyprus
and Spain. As Maria Bustillos, writing on the NewYorker blog on April 3, 2013,
explained, “rather than trusting in governments, central banks, or other third-party
institutions to secure the value of the currency and guarantee transactions,
Bitcoin [places] its trust in mathematics.”The math that powers Bitcoin is extremely
complex, making mainstream acceptance of the currency unlikely. However, certain
online retailers, including Namecheap.com and Bitcoinstore.com, accept bitcoins as
Have you considered web-based technologies like Stripe
as a way to add a low-cost, innovative payment solution to
your e-commerce operations while at the same time
supporting the development of digital currency
Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 11
Bartering social capital for actual capital
Bartering used to be limited to the exchange of tangible goods and services. But with
the rise of social media influencers and Klout scores, certain brands are allowing
their customers to trade intangible actions for tangible benefits.The best-known
example is Pay With a Tweet, a service that allows a consumer to download an
e-book or MP3 in exchange for a promotional tweet about the item in question.
But recent examples are taking this idea in new and unusual directions.
Dance Dance Doodle Doodle Revolution
In October of 2012, Coke introduced a vending machine in South Korea that
dispenses free soda—provided consumers are able to correctly mimic the dance
moves displayed on screen (Wasserman, 2012). Meanwhile, the Clarion Hotel in
Stockholm, Sweden started accepting art produced by their guests as payment last
summer (Chen, 2012).
What do your customers enjoy doing—and how can their
hobbies or habits be turned into a promotional bartering
1 2Mini Trend
Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 12
Bought by many, enjoyed by one
Buying and giving a gift is usually a one-to-one exchange.Wedding registries include
multiple items, but each gift is usually associated with a single benefactor. But new
payment methods now allow for social gifting, in which multiple participants
contribute to the purchase of one item of significant worth, while retaining the ability
to offer gift givers personal acknowledgement for their contributions.
A number of different social gifting options have emerged over the last year,
including Wishgift, givebuttons and SocialGift. Some of these companies have
partnered with specific retailers or social media platforms, but they all provide a
more convenient way to collectively track and purchase gifts for birthdays or other
I’ll buy the tires, you get the hubcaps
The Dodge Dart registry launched in early 2013 and allows the crowdsourced
purchase of a new car by leveraging a consumer’s social media network. Participants
can specify the item(s) they wish to pay for, from nuts or bolts to the engine. If the
participant is unable to raise the entire cost of the car, they are given the option of
covering the difference.
How might you offer creative ways of supporting the
group gift purchasing experience that go beyond wedding
and baby registries?
Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 13
Our next report will look at retail trends through the lens of analytics, followed by
technology platforms. Once these trend reports are complete, we will move to the
next phase of strategic foresight: identifying the driving forces underlying the trends.
Those driving forces will inform future scenarios, leading to the last phases in this
strategic foresight initiative to articulate the future of B2C retail and commerce.
For more information, you can follow the project on Nurun’s blog, Digital for Real
Life. If you have any questions, or want to receive an email reminder when our next
trend report is published, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nurun’s Strategic Foresight team performed a horizon scan using the “STEEPV”
framework to locate current and emerging trends and signals in the following areas:
Social,Technological, Economic, Environmental, Political, and Cultural Values.
These signals and trends were then clustered and sorted into six overarching trends.
Each of these overarching trends required the support of three to five strong signals
or examples. Some trends had an excess of signals—in those cases, excess signals
were catalogued for future inclusion or consideration.
The Nurun Strategic Foresight team will continue to monitor and collect new devel-
opments in business models to inform subsequent strategic foresight work, especially
Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 14
Nurun is a global design and technology consultancy that works with some of the
world’s most innovative companies.We create products and services for the
connected world through a combination of human insight, new technology and
smart thinking. Clients include Adidas, BBVA, Bouygues Telecom, Coca-Cola,
Electronic Arts, General Electric, Google,The Home Depot,Tesla Motors, Sony
and Walmart. Headquartered in Montréal and with 12 offices across North America,
Europe, and Asia, Nurun has multidisciplinary teams of more than 1,200
anthropologists, designers, strategists and software engineers. Nurun is a wholly
owned subsidiary of Québecor Média Inc., one of Canada’s largest tele-
communications and media providers.
Meet the Nurun Strategic Foresight Team
As a Content Strategist at Nurun, Ryan Bigge combines over 12 years of experience
as a freelance journalist with a passion for design thinking and interactive art. His
writing has been published in the NewYork Times Magazine, Report on Business
and the Toronto Star. Ryan recently spoke at SXSW Interactive about analog
souvenirs and physidigital trends.
As Nurun’s Design Strategist, Jen utilizes a diverse set of consumer research tech-
niques to uncover insights and shape new opportunities for various retail clients. Jen
recently co-authored a report on the future of consumer-to-business payments that
focused on the Canadian banking industry as part of her work in OCAD University’s
Master of Design Foresight & Innovation program. Jen’s work fuses her eclectic
background in accounting and finance with her keen interest in sociocultural trends
As Senior Retail Strategist at Nurun, Kira’s focus is on translating consumer needs
into viable retail solutions, bridging both in-store and online capabilities. She brings
a unique blend of passion for retail with over nine years of experience in
category and product management. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Retail
Management and an International MBA.
As Vice President, Strategy, Audrey guides Nurun’s cross-functional teams in identi-
fying, framing and solving customer-centric opportunities across our omni-channel
retail clients, including Sears Canada,The Home Depot Canada, Acklands-Grainger
and the LCBO. She also leads the development and evolution of Nurun Toronto’s
strategic capabilities in design research, design & retail strategy, analytics and inter-
Retail Transactions & Payments | June 2013 15
Acxsys Corporation. (2012). Interac Flash Services for Consumers. Retrieved May
7, 2013, from http://www.interac.ca/index.php/en/interac-flash/interac-flash-for-
Bustillos, M. (2013, April 2).The BitCoin Boom.The NewYorker. Retrieved from
Carr, A. (2012, June). Leslie Berland – The 100 Most Creative People in Business
in 2012 – Fast Company. Fast Company. Retrieved from http://www.fastcompany.
ChallengePost Inc. (2012).The MintChip Challenge. Retrieved May 7, 2013, from
Chen,Y. (2012, June 12). Hotel Accepts Doodles From Artists as Payment for
Rooms – PSFK. Retrieved May 7, 2013, from http://www.psfk.com/2012/06/hotel-
Clay, K. (2012, December 15).Will 2013 be theYear of Loyalty Programs? – Forbes.
Retrieved May 7, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyclay/2012/12/15/will-
comScore, Inc. (2013, February 4). comScore Study Highlights Digital Wallet
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phone. Retrieved May 7, 2013, from http://mobeam.com/faq/
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(Bank of Canada Review) (p. 32). Canada: Bank of Canada. Retrieved from http://
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Maker NCR to Expand its Retail Footprint – TechCrunch. Retrieved May 7, 2013,
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