KEY POINTS

  • Autonomous checkout will change the game for payments companies. Although the technology is still in its infancy, Business Insider Intelligence forecasts that the number of stores employing autonomous checkout will climb from 350 at the end of 2018 to 10,000 by 2024, while payment volume will rise from under $70 million to over $20 billion in that same period — and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Payments companies should begin positioning now to catch the autonomous checkout wave. By moving into the space early, processors, hardware manufacturers, and other payments companies can secure critical first-mover advantages such as technology and retail partnerships. Early movers will have more power over the autonomous checkout process, which will be valuable since the new shopping experience will require consumers to choose their payment method earlier.
  • Firms can move into the autonomous checkout space in three ways:
    • Build a solution: Creating an autonomous checkout process from scratch allows payments companies to build it in a way that emphasizes their payments capabilities, but this approach is time and resource intensive.
    • Partner with a third-party provider: Working with an existing autonomous checkout provider enables payments companies to easily enter the space, but they likely won't be able to build in advantages for themselves, such as promoting their own payment methods.
    • Acquire an established player: Bringing in an autonomous checkout player gives payments firms full control and a ready-made product, but they must be prepared to make a sizable investment and be able to effectively integrate the new business with their own.
  • There are several players in the space that payments companies must assess to potentially mimic, partner with, or acquire. Several third-party autonomous checkout providers have already emerged, such as Standard Cognition, while retailers like Amazon have developed their own autonomous capabilities. When evaluating these players, payments firms should consider their shopping experiences, accepted payment methods, expansion plans, and more to determine which company they'd like to work with, and in what way.
  • No matter how payments companies enter the space or which providers they choose to work with, they'll need to move quickly and focus on communication. Payments companies looking to get involved in autonomous checkout risk falling behind competitors if they don't move quickly, making it harder to succeed later [...]