Interview with Jean-Claude Barbezange
Jean-Claude Barbezange is R&D Director. He joined us in 1980.
How will wearables change relationships between merchants and consumers?
We envision that, in a near future, these wearables, such as smartwatches and connected bracelets, could simplify authentication when it comes to payments and access to digital services. Consumers could identify themselves and pay with these wearables without having to use a physical ID card, a payment card or even a smartphone.
Besides authentication, what other benefits will these connected objects have for merchants and consumers?
One of the major benefits for consumers, besides authentication, will be the adaptation of payments to the possible constraints that can occur at the time of the payment. Let’s take the example of a consumer wishing to pay for something while he or she is at a hotel’s swimming pool. It is very unlikely that this consumer will want to carry his/her smartphone or credit card on him/her. In this context, a smartwatch or a connected bracelet, waterproof of course, could authenticate this consumer and allow him/her to finalize his/her payment.
Similarly, the benefit for merchants will be to be able to adapt their buying journeys in order to make them more seamless and to reduce potential constraints. In addition, since wearables allow for a continuous authentication, merchants will be able to have a transaction validated without much effort from consumers.
Can you tell us more about our POC*, WL Wearable Innovative Shopping Experience?
We started working on this POC at the beginning of 2014, using an Android smartwatch as a base for our developments. We built a restaurant use case. This POC was used to identify and welcome the consumer as he or she checked in at the restaurant. The establishment, equipped with Bluetooth Low Energy e-Beacons, could therefore be informed about the arrival of the consumer who had previously activated his/her Android app on his/her smartwatch. In this context, we could for example display, on this app, the special of the day, current offers or even the remaining wait time until the consumer was served. This POC also allowed for the consumer’s authentication at check-out, in front of the restaurant’s payment terminal, in order to conclude the transaction effortlessly, without any object or a loyalty card of any kind, and to suggest additional services, such as leaving a certified review about this restaurant.
This POC evolved, mainly due to the fact that the small-sized screens on smartwatches limits the interactions with consumers. Therefore, we added audio interactions, through Bluetooth headsets, and also integrated vocal recognition via the smartwatch’s microphone as well as authentication by voice biometrics.
Nowadays, we adapt this POC on new smartwatches, either connected to a smartphone or autonomous, in order to prepare demos for an Eureka Catrene collaborative R&D project, called H2O (for Human to Object), which gathers about twenty companies across five European countries.
How can this solution bring new payment usages through wearables?
Our solution allows the use of new authentication techniques including, in particular, biometrics such as digital fingerprints, as long as the wearables have a dedicated scanner. Wearables can also enable behavioral biometrics authentication via the capture of consumers’ movements by the wearable.
Thank you for your time today, Jean-Claude. I will leave you with one final question: if you could invent a new innovative solution to help with one of your daily tasks, in your professional and/or private life, what would it be and why?
For me, it would be two solutions. The first one would be a real-time instantaneous digital translator that could be used during a conversation between two persons speaking a different language. The second one would be holographic projections to replace our physical screens and these projections would be adapted to users’ individual sights.
* Proof of concept