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Payment innovation heats up this summer


A lot of attention has been paid to the impact of mobile wallets in the payment technology arena. However, other technologies are also emerging to make payment, among other shopping activities, easier and more efficient. For example, is partnering with to make the digital ordering process (including processing and payment) even easier.

The specialty floral gift retailer will allow customers to place orders using the Amazon Alexa voice-activated artificial intelligence platform via the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Tap smart home devices and Fire TV streaming media player. 1-800-Flowers shoppers will be able to give Alexa basic ordering instructions, and the retailer will then process the order and arrange delivery.

1-800-Flowers is the first third party e-commerce retailer to utilize this technology on Alexa-enabled devices.

"Innovation is part of our DNA, and Alexa is certainly one of the world's most innovative technologies," said Chris McCann, president, "We have always embraced new and emerging technologies to enhance our customer experience and we are excited to team with Amazon in offering a leading-edge technology that will help our customers act on their thoughtfulness and deliver smiles."

Cold Cash

In addition, several retailers and fulfillment services are entering the new realm of “fridge commerce” via partnerships with the Samsung Family Hub connected refrigerator. The interactive device includes a number of features that streamline the digital grocery process, including payment.

A 21.5-inch LCD touchscreen on the front of the fridge seamlessly connects to a consumer’s smartphone, allowing direct Web access. Of particular interest to retailers, Family Hub also directly connects to the Instacart on-demand grocery delivery service. It also comes preloaded with the Groceries by MasterCard app, which allows consumers to share, build, manage and modify their grocery lists and shopping carts throughout the week.

Customers can shop and select items from online grocer and integration partner FreshDirect, and supermarket cooperative ShopRite. Items are added to a cart and the final shopping list is approved with a four-digit pin, providing control over household purchases.

Items are then paid for in a single checkout experience that accepts any U.S.-issued credit and debit cards. Other retail-relevant features include access to the Allrecipes digital recipe platform

Look Ma, No Hands

For consumers who find the traditional mobile wallet, which requires tapping, too labor-intensive, another innovation in mobile payment is the elimination of those pesky hands.

Google is piloting a new mobile payment app called “Hands Free” at select food service retailers, including some McDonald’s and Papa John’s stores, in the South Bay region of Silicon Valley. Unlike Google’s existing Android Pay mobile payment app, Hands Free works on both Android and iOS devices.

Hands Free uses Bluetooth low energy, Wi-Fi, and location services on a user’s phone to detect whether they are near a participating store. To make a payment, customers tell the cashier, “I’ll pay with Google.” The cashier then asks for their initials and uses the picture the consumer added to their Hands Free profile to confirm their identity.

Full card details are not shared with stores and customers receive an instant notification on their phone when a payment is made. Customers will also be alerted to any unusual or suspicious activity.

At select stores, Google is also in the early stages of experimenting with visual identification. This process uses an in-store camera to automatically confirm consumer identity based on your Hands Free profile picture. All images captured by the Hands Free camera are deleted immediately.

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