Arguably the most important revolution in retail commerce – so far – began in 1958 when Bank of America introduced the BankAmericard, now known as Visa, which became the first widespread payment instrument that let consumers buy both goods and services on revolving credit.
No one can argue the importance of credit cards in today’s retail economy. Even in this tough economy, U.S. consumers and businesses purchased more than $1.5 trillion using credit cards last year, according to Visa and MasterCard. But in the half century plus that has followed the introduction of the BankAmericard, the consumer’s in-store shopping experience is largely unchanged. But a new revolution is underway that will radically change this shopping experience, and retail itself.
There are a lot of companies right now introducing products and services that promise to revolutionize commerce. You’ve probably heard about some of these technologies: NFC, digital wallets, 2D barcodes and tags, retailer apps, in-store location based services, digital coupons. It’s a long list, but none of these technologies by itself is going to radically change the shopping experience for either the consumer or the merchant. Yet all these technologies have one thing in common, and that’s the piece that’s going to revolutionize retail: mobile.