Will the Internet of Things become a practical commerce platform?

Written by on February 21, 2017 in Opinion with 0 Comments

It is inevitable, ahead of MWC, that there is a flurry of announcements and activity. From 5G to payments, from AR to security, the place is awash. The Internet of Things is no exception, and IBM has done more than most to bang the drum (toot its horn and blow its trumpet).

The company sees pretty much everything as an opportunity for commerce to take place. If you are out running, sensors will detect that desperate and dangerous wearing of your shoe tread and possibly order you up a pair, perfectly measured, of course. If it is a thing, and the thing is connected, there is a transaction to be had.

IBM has gone as far as team up with Visa to make all this possible.

And Harriet Green, General Manager of the Watson IBM project is dead keen. “This combination of IBM’s industry leading IoT technologies with Visa payments services, signifies the next defining moment in commerce by allowing payments on any connected object, with new levels of simplicity and convenience for everyone.” Defining moment?

Whilst acknowledging, even applauding the ability to buy anything, anywhere at any time, the tiny part of you that is still human (according to Elon Musk, we must merge with machines or lose out) wants to beat its tiny human fists against the nearest wall.

Do we all want driver-less cars? No, some of us really rather like driving. If we wanted to take a bus, we would. But then, if we needed to get across town for a meeting, we might want to hop into a Google bubble and review the meeting notes on the way.

Do we all want our detergent, running, shoes, milk and lavatory paper ordered for us automatically? No, not really. We want to go to the supermarket and browse for ideas and ingredients. But, perhaps, not always. Commerce is just not like that.

And what about delivery? Whether by drone, droid or mere human being, do we need to have delivery places installed in our houses, for all these individual packages which will suddenly be arriving? Do we need to stay at home to receive the detergent ordered by Dash, fulfilled by Watson and paid for via Visa?

And Visa is but one payment option in a sea of them. No one payment option will become dominant, there are simply too many of them, and too many big players involved involved in developing commerce solutions. Every day, a new payments story breaks. Last week it was the struggle between Apple and the banks in Australia. This week it is the announcement that Jio and Uber have teamed up to allow drivers to accept JioMoney.

The tech world is going crazy, with scenarios dreamed up in rooms that, clearly, have no connection with the real world. Scenarios that shave a moment off our day here, a second off our leisure time there (the ‘connected home’ is no different).

Is it, you have to wonder, because we actually do not know what we want anymore, or when we want it? Is it right that these miniscule ‘improvements’ are necessary, even desirable? You have to wonder.

Even research into what Generation Y wants from money differs wildly. Last week there was a report that said they actually recoil from cash, that they do not connect a credit or debit card with money, and, to them, the device itself is money, a sort of data stream of it. This week, the opposite. Young people love cash, write cheques a lot, bank cheques on a regular basis and probably even write each other IoUs on the back of ATM receipts.

Ahead of MWC, where the hype will be like a wall of noise, should we not take a breath, allow a little common sense to settle gently around us?

And before we head for the airport, should we not take the car out to some extremely quiet roads on the west coast of Scotland, and enjoy the squeal of tyres on country roads? Just for a while?

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .

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