Does e-commerce need a new payment system?

E-commerce transactions between a merchant and a consumer involve several intermediaries. The process is similar to a toll booth on a toll road. As the shopper accelerates on his buying journey, various processors and banks interrupt the journey and cut off a few percent of the purchase amount. Traders earn less.

While no one is predicting the end of ecommerce payments as we know it, digital commerce in general is changing.

Behavior that existed in the tangible, physical world is now making its way into the digital world. These changes manifest themselves in person-to-person trade, the creative economy, digital barter and the so-called metaverse.

Let’s look at this last example.

metaverse

While the folks at Meta — Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp — may be trying to own the word “metaverse,” it was first coined by Neal Stephenson in his science fiction novel “Snow Crash.” It describes a virtual reality environment where users can interact with each other and with computer generated objects.

The metaverse has the potential to augment many human endeavors, both real and virtual.

What do ecommerce payments look like in the metaverse? No one knows for sure, but there are some clues.

In “Snow Crash”, the main character visits a virtual pizzeria, where he can order a pizza and have it delivered to his home in the real world. He uses ‘creds’, a digital currency, to pay for it.

While this may seem far-fetched, it’s not that different from ordering a pizza through an app like Seamless, DoorDash, Uber Eats, or Grubhub. Both cases use a digital interface to order and pay for a physical product.

It’s not hard to imagine a future where we use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum or the like for e-commerce, despite their current volatility

Value in a system

evvio, an e-commerce technology company, recently offered an alternative payment option called Fluid Commerce. It is a next-generation payment model and software infrastructure surrounded by a thick wall of international patents.

It is not necessarily a cryptocurrency, nor is it a new banking system. Instead, it is a method of trading value within a closed economy such as the metaversevideo games or an e-commerce marketplace.

Screenshot of from Fluid Commerce homepage

Fluid Commerce hopes to create a closed payment infrastructure to exchange goods and services with fewer intermediaries.

A key to understanding Fluid Commerce is that buyers and sellers are interchangeable. For some transactions, a buyer buys a product or service. But in others she (the buyer) might to sell a service and earn a living online.

In this scenario, infrastructure such as Fluid Commerce may become necessary. The exchange of value within a network doesn’t have to rely on fiat money, payment card numbers and external processors, but instead something like Neal Stephenson’s funds that can be exchanged instantly, securely and hassle-free.

Applications

This concept and presumably the infrastructure needed could work with Amazon, Shopify stores or any social commerce app yet to be launched.

Imagine not paying any transaction fees or interest for purchases through Amazon or Shopify.

Imagine that sellers do not receive payments within hours of the sale, but in milliseconds.

In addition, this idea of ​​trade value in a closed economy can be attractive to the so-called bankers, people who do not have checking or savings accounts. According to a Morning Consult article, as many as 10% of American households would no longer have a bank by 2021.

A huge opportunity for both consumers and traders.

The company shop

Before we head headlong into closed economies full of non-fungible currencies, we must remember that similar arrangements have existed in the physical world.

Company stores were typical in American mining towns during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These stores were owned and operated by the mining companies and were the only source of supplies for the workers.

However, the prices in those stores were often unfair and workers could get into debt, leading to a kind of contractual servitude.

For traders

A crucial question with the evolution of digital commerce is whether it will be used as a way to trade value fairly and efficiently or whether it will become a burden.

For now, e-commerce merchants must continue to strive for profit and customer satisfaction. But changes are likely to come and we should all understand the implications.

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