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Worldpay Demonstrates The Future of Virtual Reality Payments

A virtual card machine to make payments within the virtual world. Will the idea catch on?

It is now possible to experience videogames and 360-degree videos, watch movies or sports, shop for furniture, plan your holiday or look at real estate options all using virtual reality (VR). But what happens when you have decided on your furniture or picked out your dream holiday and need to pay for it? Worldpay thinks it has the answer.

Worldpay is one of the biggest names in payment processing, being the power behind any number of card machines and online payment services, but like many other firms, Worldpay is concerned about how money will be handled inside the virtual realm. Keeping their customer’s payments secure and their money safe is a high priority for Worldpay, and they think they have found a simple solution: Create a virtual card machine.

The idea is that the user has a digital bank card that they hold up to a digital card machine, working much like contactless payments do now. The system even provides a haptic feedback rumble when the payment is accepted.

Speaking to The Memo, Nick Telford-Reed, the director of technology innovation at Worldpay, said the system made sense due to familiarity: “You’re already asking the consumer to jump into a virtualised reality, so giving them the reassurance of physical cues that they would get from [physical] payments is about making it as easy as possible in what’s otherwise a novel environment.”

In the case of high-value payments that go beyond the contactless threshold, such as buying a new kitchen or a holiday a PIN is still required. This presents a problem in that customers immersed within VR do not know who could be watching to plot out their movements and potentially steal their PIN. The team at WorldPay have come up with a somewhat novel solution for that, also.

The system for entering a PIN is called ‘sharding’ and involves the numbers becoming scattered across the virtual environment in a semi-random fashion so the user has to move around to hit the right sequence. As the numbers are never the same each time, someone copying the motions still could not re-create the PIN.

It remains to be seen if virtual card machines will become the VR payment method of the future, but VRFocus will report on whatever method becomes dominant.

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