The Future Of Payments: Digital Transactions, Social Currency And Bitcoin

When you look in your wallet, do you relish having good old hard cash at your fingertips or do you prefer the modern convenience of paying for your purchases with plastic at the checkout line? The explosion of online shopping has sparked an evolution in how business is run — cash has quickly been trumped by digital transactions at brick-and-mortar retail stores, restaurants and grocery stores. But this is only the beginning of what’s yet to come.

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Today, integrated iPad POS and mobile technologies provide the capability to bring people’s online wallets—services like PayPal and Google Wallet — into the physical world, forever altering the retail landscape. The blending of online purchasing behaviors and in-store payments is taking shape, and consumers are demanding the ability to pay with their digital currencies at retail stores around the country.


As an expert in digital payments and CEO of Revel Systems, I can firmly say that we are witnessing a convergence in the retail payments space with mobile technologies and proven enterprise-grade technology. Following the rapid trajectory of digital currency innovations and consumer adoption, we predict that in the next few years it will be less about cash or credit, and payments will evolve to include more PayPal, Bitcoin, paying with tweets, or something new altogether. 

At the start of every year, as part of our corporate strategy, we take a look at predictions that we anticipate will take shape in the coming year. Below are three key trends that we believe will propel our industry forward:

  • Mobile and digital currency will go mainstream in retail — Mobile payment options will bridge people’s online wallets with their physical ones at the checkout. People will be able to tap into digital currencies like PayPal, Google Wallet and Bitcoin to pay for items at the checkout line. Smartphones check calendars and geo centric data to offer you the best eating experience based on your schedule and preferences. POS terminals will act as beacons for the mobile consumer.

  • Social Capital begins to influence personal pricing at brick and mortar — CRM systems will also include social data so that more influential people over Twitter and Facebook can receive perks based on their digital footprint and if they help publicize a business through checking-in or uploading product or establishment photos. Offline and online experiences merge.

  • Gamification will be offered in POS systems — With the popularity of gamification technologies like Yelp and Foursquare, POS systems will begin to offer incentives like achievement badges and virtual rewards for both establishment owners and customers. Retailers will have the potential to unlock achievements like, “You just exceeded your sales record from last year!”  While consumers can earn recognitions like, “Congratulations, you are the 2000th customer.” In theory, gamification is really about making insights in data more user friendly and actionable.   

Recent reports from the National Retail Federation cite an overall decline in revenues from in-store retail activity over the last year. In order to capitalize on the popularity and convenience of online shopping, retailers need to help bridge the online and in-store experience by making the payment process fun and easy at the checkout line.

If your business is evaluating POS technologies, be sure to look for systems that offer sales tracking across multiple store locations, and has a marketplace that supports 3rd party apps like loyalty and accounting software to plug into the platform. While some consumer-grade POS technologies are a great first step for smaller retailers, stores with multiple locations need cross-location inventory tracking, reporting and analytics to be successful.

Whether you like it or not, cash is no longer king.  With the rise of new forms of payments like Bitcoin, virtual currency and credit cards, payments are poised to become the new way people interact with stores. The new role of a company like Revel is to give its customers the platform to empower business – regardless of payment type.  Why would we limit the types of transactions customers want to pay vendors with?  Even the electric automobile company Tesla reported they just had someone pay $100K in Bitcoins to purchase one of their cars. As the future of tech and money is evolving rapidly, this space redefines what money is to consumers and stresses how important it is for retailers to be ready for what’s to come.

Lisa Falzone is the CEO and co-founder of Revel Systems, a provider of iPad point-of-sale (POS) systems for restaurant, retail and grocery. Since starting the company in 2010, Falzone leads the day-to-day business operations and spearheads new business growth, and has also been instrumental in securing more than $13M in venture capital funding to date and assisting in international expansion of the San Francisco-based startup. Revel Systems is currently in more than 1,200 enterprise locations including Goodwill, Belkin, Griffin, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen and more. Lisa has been recognized as Forbes ’30 Under 30’Business Insiders “30 Most Important Women Under 30 In Tech” and San Francisco Business Times ’40 Under 40.’

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