Babbitt column | The contours of the next round of payment changes: the road to break through digital currency payments

In the previous article, the author mentioned that for all the currency people, how to use traditional payment tools such as Alipay and WeChat, such as digital wallet, has been a hot topic in the industry.

Throughout the relevant discussions, it is not difficult to find a very interesting point: when people discuss the topic of digital payment and legal currency payment, they will basically go to "bitcoin / digital currency / decentralized currency and legal currency who is better" In this fruitless battle, few people will discuss the experience of payment tools. The specific reasons are easier to understand. Like Bitcoin, there is no mainstream economic ecological support, and the price range fluctuates greatly. Whether it can be considered as a currency itself is a problem. This consensus cannot be solved. What is the significance of continuing to discuss the payment experience problem?

However, with the recent series of projects including super-sovereign currencies including Libra and digital currency of central banks, the monetary attributes of digital currencies have gradually begun to gain recognition, on some social media sites. On the list, there has been a hot search for “Libra/Central Bank Digital Currency to Replace Alipay/WeChat”.

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In my opinion, for digital currency, it is now time to discuss how to improve the electronic payment experience. After all, the so-called corner can only overtake, only when the payment technology is updated, the digital currency has a chance to be in 10 years. After the slow development, to grab the market share of a part of the currency. Otherwise, it is only in the current technical environment with the legal currency, and the payment of digital currency can only exist as a performance art.

First, the weakness of existing mobile payments: difficult to cope with high-frequency payment

So, where is the breakthrough point of the next iteration of payment technology? To understand this, we must conduct a close examination of the existing mobile payment model to see what is wrong with the current mobile electronic payment. After all, the teacher is well-known, and if the digital currency payment is just a matter of pondering The centralized electronic money has been changed into a decentralized digital currency, and it is not intended to give users a relatively large experience improvement. The so-called "Challenge Alipay / WeChat" slogan, do not say that users do not buy, even the currency circle itself estimates Did not breathe out the exit.

According to current opinion polls, the vast majority of mobile payment users and practitioners do not agree with digital payments like Libra. The main reason for this situation is that many people think that the mobile payment they are using is already a very advanced payment technology in the world. Strictly speaking, this conclusion has no particularly big problems. However, the front-runners are of great enthusiasm, but they are easily caught in a fatal problem – that is, the motivation to lose self-improvement and transformation, because in its view, now, with the market share of the first throne, can already eat If the product is full of defects, even if the product has some defects, no one will be able to shake his position by shaking the shortcomings. Why do you have to work hard to make a bold self-reform? There are even many companies that often feel that they are perfect in every aspect and do not need to make any further improvements. This sentiment is particularly evident in the attitude of the Chinese payment industry, which initially viewed Libra and other digital currencies. The relevant comments are available online and will not be discussed here.

But the question is, is there any mobile payment tool that people use all the time? Is there really no room for further improvement? In fact, there are some, you can recall, in daily life, the whole process of mobile payment using mobile phones – first, you have to pull out the phone, use the string, gesture or fingerprint password to unlock the screen; secondly, you have to open Alipay Or WeChat, click the scan code button (for some old mobile phones, WeChat has to receive all the unread information before it can be smoothly scanned), and dock with the QR code; third, you have to enter Amount, enter the password (this step is sometimes replaced by a fingerprint lock), and the payment is completed.

Undoubtedly, this series of measures has saved many people from carrying and storing change in reality, effectively reducing the cost of living and greatly improving the life experience. However, if you look closely at the above three processes, it is not difficult to find that from the perspective of Internet products, current mobile payment is not really a perfect tool – users need to input 1-3 strings consecutively. Only then can the entire process of mobile payment be completed. The three strings are: the number or gesture password when unlocking the screen, the amount to be entered when paying, and the payment password when confirming the transaction. Considering that some mobile phones will use fingerprints to unlock, at the same time, some payment tools will also take fingerprint confirmation, so the number of input strings is the least, and only the time when the amount is entered.

Practically speaking, this kind of frequent input string operation may not be a problem in the daily life with slower rhythm, which may be the problem of spending more than ten seconds per payment, but if in some specific scenarios This shortcoming will be magnified N times. For example: many school cafeterias are still using the payment method more than ten years ago—that is, using a meal card to make payments. There is no doubt that this payment method is “go to special equipment” throughout the payment industry. Under the trend, it seems quite backward. That is why these canteens will still stick to the position of the meal card, and have to use a bunch of equipment to replace a few QR codes, plus administrative notices prohibiting outsiders from entering the campus. An important reason is: in pursuit of efficiency.

[Note] The dedicated equipment here refers to hardware dedicated to payment, such as bank cards, pos machines, and the food cards mentioned in the previous section.

Readers who have had a meal at school should remember that the school cafeteria has a very distinctive feature—that is, as the students rush to eat after class, the canteen’s payment frequency will be in a very short time. A very high frequency is reached, from ordering, cooking to paying, the whole process is usually completed in twenty or thirty seconds. After a long period of time, the tolerance of the students will drop drastically. After all, when the appetite Maslow's underlying needs are threatened, patience is often very fragile. In fact, even at such a high frequency, we often hear complaints from some people who are “a little faster in front” during the peak meal in the cafeteria.

Now imagine if people replace the meal card payment with WeChat and QR code. What kind of situation will happen? First, each person's payment step will change from a "hardware swipe" that only takes a few seconds to a "Startup Screen – Brush QR Code – Enter Amount – Password Confirmation – Canteen Confirmation" combination of up to 10 seconds. Second, since the base station near the canteen suddenly accesses a large number of mobile terminals, the bandwidth resources allocated to each device are greatly reduced, and the mobile payment will experience a sudden drop in speed. From the author's previous personal experience, After these two factors are superimposed, it will directly lead to about double the time for everyone's meal. The result is that people waiting in line to wait for the increase in meal waiting time and experience a sudden drop, which is obviously unbearable for the hungry diners. Therefore, although some colleges and universities had wanted to make a fashion when mobile payment became popular, they quickly had to change their traditional meal card payments because of the loss of students.

Second, from “sweeping” to “touching one touch”, or the focus of the next round of payment industry development

The situation in the canteens of colleges and universities is not a special case. In fact, if you look closely at the scenes where payment time is very limited – for example, supermarkets queue up for payment, subway mobile phone stations, bus mobile phones, people will find that the enterprise has taken The payment plan is almost the same as that of the college cafeteria—the company uses specialized equipment like a scanner, while the average user still holds a universal device like a mobile phone. When the two devices are in contact, the payment behavior can be completed in an instant, even when the mobile base station has a dead angle and the network is not in good condition.

There is no doubt that this is a very desirable payment method. For the user, they completely eliminate the steps of entering the amount and password confirmation. Of course, in some ideal situations (for example, users are using fingerprints to unlock mobile phones), from the perspective of existing payment products, some of the more forward-looking emerging payment instruments are indeed working in this direction: for example, before the central bank At the digital currency briefing, the relevant product owner revealed that the development direction of the central bank's digital currency is to complete the payment action through the "two mobile phones to achieve collision". That is to say, under ideal conditions, electronic payment will be changed from the past “sweep + input string” to a more convenient “touch one touch” in the future (the payment amount is input by the merchant).

But the question is, since the "contact is paying" scheme is so efficient, why hasn't anyone used it all the time? An important reason is that the hardware does not work. As mentioned in the previous article: whether it is a meal card machine, a supermarket scan code gun, or a subway QR code gate, it is a special device designed for payment. Take a meal card as an example, such a humble card. An important reason for the ability to complete asset storage and payment functions is that there are dedicated chips in it. The same is true of other devices, which are essentially machines designed to pay for. As a general-purpose machine, the smart phone itself does not contain hardware dedicated to payment, so the "touch-and-pay" shortcut function cannot be realized, and the work can only be pushed to software such as Alipay and WeChat. Relying on the user's multiple on-screen operations to complete the payment behavior.

This is actually the key development direction of the next round of payment revolution, and it is also the best way for digital currency to achieve over-the-counter electronic payment overtaking. It should be pointed out that the payment combination of “one-click payment + touch one touch” is far from the author's personal imagination, but a practical forward-looking technology – whether it is the working group of the central bank digital currency or the institution that hopes to come to the future. At present, this type of work is being promoted. Like UnionPay has begun to develop and promote its own one-click payment application, and the central bank also hopes to use the new payment revolution of “contact is paying” to let the digital currency wallet grab the share from the original mobile payment tools. In other words, from a technical point of view, this route is more feasible.

So where is the biggest development bottleneck? Still the same sentence: ecological limitations – WeChat and Alipay rely on the industry's largest information flow and commodity flow network, as well as a variety of holiday crazy red envelope activities, to install their own applications into the mobile phone of thousands of households, let the big size Small businesses are posting their QR code on their own desk, and your digital currency, digital wallet, why let users are willing to download your application? What kind of original ecology do you have, like WeChat red envelopes and Alipay Taobao paying bills, can make users feel that without your payment tool, my life experience will really drop a lot? The answer is as mentioned in the previous article: The key to solving this problem is not the online virtual world at the software level, but the offline real world at the hardware level. Specific details, the author will continue to introduce in the next article.