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What 2017's CES Show Says About the Future of Payments

What 2017s CES show says about the future of payments

AND we’re off! I hope the fruit cake has run its course, the holiday hangover has lifted and your respective New Years have started off on the right foot. With 2016 now fully in the rear view (and for many, that’s a good thing), we can shift our focus forward…and just like every other year, we’re off and running with CES—for the newest and greatest and, in most instances, evolutionary gains in consumer technology. While not directly a payments event, this is one of my favorites to follow as it gives a very solid hint at where consumers are headed, which in turn tells us where our focus as payment solution providers will be heading in the next 3 to 5 years, be it Smart Cars, Smart TVs, wearables, new smart phones, or the newest tech that goes smart squared—what we see at this show is what consumers will be buying in the months and years to come. So what have we learned so far?

Voice-Controlled Personal Assistants. I don’t want to just call out Amazon’s Alexa devices, but will admit that’s what I have been playing with to date. The new and improved devices from Google, Lenovo, and Amazon all show this space is set to explode. While not new, we may be looking at a tipping point for the voice-controlled UI space, which will only continue to improve and evolve. The days of having to constantly yell (and re-yell) your commands to a first-gen voice recognition software appear to be behind us. The potential of using voice commands for banking needs is something we all should already be looking at from the consumer market, all the way into the business market. The potential for disruption here is something anyone working on digital channels can’t ignore.

New Laptops. On the surface, this seems like a step backwards…why are we focusing on laptops when the tablet already overtook its spot as the main computing device (at least in terms of sales and commentary). For me, it indicates the continued need for a large form factor. There are plenty of times where more space is needed to do whatever it is you are doing, and if you look back to the last iPad updates, the need is understood by going much larger. I know the line has been blurred on what’s a tablet and what’s a laptop, but the trend I’m watching has less to do with the semantics of whether it’s a larger tablet or a lighter laptop and more to do with using the full real estate of the larger screens in question. Simplicity of design is still key, but leveraging space to maximize content is what consumers are wanting.

Wearables. I won’t spend too much time on the smart watch category because I think we have been watching the over-hyped revolutionary force of smart watches. I do believe connected wearables however are still running far below their potential. With earbuds taking a top focus this year, which isn’t surprising given Apple’s move to remove the headphone jack from their phone design, I think wearables is still a ‘front and center’ trend to watch (or listen to as it may be). Wearables are trying to make the jump from novelty to mass market appeal, with the caveat of the fitness and personal health category, which I feel has already gone past the tipping point.

CES is just the starting point for what is sure to be a fun and exciting year for payments. Looking forward to sharing insights with you along the journey and hoping to connect with as many of you as possible this year (my New Year’s resolution that I will not break!). Here’s to 2017!