With Visa and the WSL announcing their new partnership, it's the perfect time to delve into the world of fin-tech.
On a recent business trip to China, Shanghai to be precise, I was absolutely amazed at the way the Chinese people use their mobile phones. As a nation, and I am massively generalising here because I didn't leave Shanghai, they are permanently glued to their mobiles, walk everywhere while looking at them and talk to their friends while looking at their phones, they also put them on their tables at meal times to view while eating, and are constantly chatting, giggling, laughing and talking on their phones at all times. The Metro trains have free WiFi throughout the massive system, one of the biggest train systems in the world, and I observed about one in every ten people were not on their phone whilst traveling on the Metro.
While the whole attachment thing can be a little disconcerting and irritating at times, especially when sitting in meetings, it’s something that you soon get used to, and although I didn't adopt the same approach while traveling and shopping and walking etc I found myself soon becoming tolerant of it.
Their usage practice wasn't the amazing thing. Instead it was how the phone has become the only way to pay bills.
I was staying in a student part of Shanghai with seven universities in the area along with student residences. When I would go to a shop like MacDonald’s or Tesco’s, every person I saw would pay for their goods with their phones. A simple scan here and a simple click there and it was paid for. Whether it was a burger, a shopping trolley full, a six-pack of beer, petrol payments, electricity top-ups or the hiring of a bicycle for the afternoon, a quick scan sorted payments. They use wechat, and the Chinese banks utilize the wechat wallet function.
Snapscan has been around for a few years, but I had no idea that the uptake of this technology was so prevalent. Cash is redundant. Cards are redundant. No one uses them, and I was living in the dark ages with my silly Bidvest and Diners cards, using them to pay for my raw eels, monkey brains and other ridiculous ideas conjured up by people who have never visited before. I actually ate wonderful food, some of the best in the world, in some of the more intimate restaurants of Shanghai. I was alone in the city, but I digress…
I came back to the real world, convinced that I needed to dial in as much as possible with regards to Snapscan, FinTech, and all the financial uses and implications of the mobile universe. I was determined to get ahead of the game, be that guy who knew his way around this emerging financial technology, buy my wax with my phone.
Then Visa went and introduced sunglasses that do the same – that pay for your every purchase, from Corona to dinner at the RSL to the latest pair of Quiksilver boardies at the Quikkie Pro pop-up store that prints money during the first contest of the year.
All you have to do is tap your Visa payment-enabled sunglasses on an enabled-payment terminal, and you're all set to hand over your coin. It’s a basic pair of good old Ray Ban sunglasses, with a microchip on the side, and Visa launched the technology when it was announced that they were the official payment partners at the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro 2017 events.
Visa is a forward thinking brand though. They are that brand. The promise of VISA enabling the travel experience with new technology and payment options is what should really excite the surfer.
Will the payment-sunglasses work? Will this lead a revolution, or go the way of that imbedded tablet computer on the surfboard?
In an article released by CNBC, it was stated that, “while the glasses aren't available to the public yet, Visa is testing to see if there is a demand for them and if brands or banks want to sponsor the product.“
That’s fine. At least they’re testing.