How do you pay when virtual reality shopping? WorldPay has a way with new prototype

Lynsey Barber
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Virtual reaility use is expected to grow (Source: Getty)

You're already used to buying things at the touch of a smartphone and tech companies are working on bringing that experience to virtual reality. But how will we pay for that latest pair of shoes bought on the VR high street? One company is finding out.

WorldPay, the company behind the payments terminals you likely see at bricks and mortar stores, has created a new so-called proof of concept that recreates that kind of experience in the virtual world.

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It has made a virtual terminal at which users can swipe a virtual card, even to having to enter your pin for items with a higher price tag – like you would in real-life. And to protect your pin, you're asked to chose the numbers from around the virtual room so as not to give it away to anyone watching from the real world.

It comes as research by the firm found that just 35 per cent of shoppers would consider buying things in VR and only five per cent had actually had any experience of VR in retail. However, the majority – 58 per cent – of the more than 2,000 people surveyed said they would be interested in using VR more broadly for shopping, such as trying items on.

Nick Telford-Reed, director of ​technology and innovation at the firm, said: “Although consumer appetite for VR is growing, there is a long way to go before the technology enters the mainstream in the UK. Consumers are sceptical of the technology, particularly when it comes to storing sensitive information, such as payment details, within a virtual world."

The research found countries such as China and Brazil were more open to VR shopping.

Alibaba is one of the tech firms testing out the technology, attracting an impressive eight million people to try out shopping in Macy's in New York without even leaving the sofa.

Meanwhile, fellow ecommerce giant Amazon hinted at its own efforts when in January it was found to be hiring a creative director for virtual reality. In the job ad it said: "we are building Amazon’s VR shopping experience for use by millions of customers on a wide variety of VR devices.”

"As more companies experiment with VR/AR in their endeavour to drive higher customer engagement, they need to consider if VR technology can support purchases as well," said Telford-Reed.

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"Whatever sales channel, it’s vital to make the payment process both slick and secure for customers. A compelling, immersive and seamless VR experience may even have the capability to increase sales.”

Visa Europe demonstrated similar experimental VR payment technology at the opening of its huge new innovation centre in London earlier this year. And it tested out augmented reality shopping in an app with startup Blippar and fashion brand House of Holland.

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