Walmart's senior director of payment services envisions a day without the physical point of sale.
"What I'd like to see is very little to no point of sale," says Jamie Henry, Walmart's senior director of payment services. "How can we streamline that experience at the point of sale, and how can we streamline the point of sale overall just to get that customer in and out of our store." All online pickup and biometric authentication might be two ways of freeing up counter space.
Henry and executives from Best Buy and CVS Caremark were sitting on a retailer panel at the 20th Annual ATM, Debit & Prepaid Forum Thursday.
All of those retailers are working on their own answer to mobile payments and the point of sale as a part of the digital wallet joint venture the Merchant Customer Exchange. During the panel, another panelist, Dee O'Malley, Best Buy's director of finance, said she can envision a world where there is no difference between card present and card-not-present transactions.
"A prime example in our stores today is pick-up services," she says. "Is that a card present, or a card not present transaction? The industry has come up with these rules and they don't fit these new business models."
At the same time, Henry says that new mobile payment ideas at the point of sale only add to the confusion.
"I think PayPal solved a need in the marketplace when it was developed for online," he says. "But I struggle a bit with the value proposition for in-store acceptance. I'm not clear how it would further our objectives in mobile commerce."
He didn't relegate his comments solely to eBay's ecommerce arm, but he was assertive that he thinks the point of sale can absolutely be streamlined for consumers. O'Malley agreed.
"Technology is allowing us to get there and think about the point of sale entirely differently," says O'Malley, Best Buy's director of finance. "So who knows what we will be able to do a year, or two, from now."
Follow Sean Sposito (@SeanSposito) this week as he covers The 20th Annual ATM, Debit & Prepaid Forum (#PaymentsForum) from Phoenix, Ariz.