A new opportunity is forming for the payments industry in the burgeoning market for multifunction, Internet-connected smart TVs. It’s a market driven by consumers who watch less and less network and cable TV and instead stream content online, whether on a desktop, a tablet computer or, more commonly now, a smart TV. Leveraging payment functionality online via smart TVs may thus be the next big delivery channel for payment providers.
Boston-based market research firm Strategy Analytics said in its Smart TV Forecast that 76 million smart TVs were shipped globally in 2013, up by 55 percent from 2012. Western Europe is the biggest market so far for smart TVs, according to the research. By 2017, Strategy Analytics said, virtually all mid- to high-end TVs will ship with some form of Internet capability.
However, the “smart” capabilities of connected TVs are being underutilized by consumers; Strategy Analytics reported that only about 50 percent of smart TV owners in the United States and Europe utilize that online functionality. “[S]o vendors must continue to add compelling applications and services to entice consumers to utilize their platforms,” said Strategy Analytics Analyst Eric Smith.
One such vendor is Paymentwall Inc., a global e-commerce service provider headquartered in San Francisco. The firm is an aggregator of online solutions, including an international payment gateway, a mobile carrier billing platform and an alternative prepaid platform. Paymentwall has offices in nine countries, including China, Germany, Turkey and Brazil.
Paymentwall Chief Executive Officer Honor Gunday said the company has integrated all its features into a smart TV application, PW Smart TV, which facilitates payments for the online streaming of movies and other content. The solution is geared toward developers who build applications for smart TVs.
Gunday said that, in the last few years, at least 5,000 applications have been written for smart TVs from around 3,000 developers worldwide. The problem is monetizing those applications. “These developers who produce these applications on many TV platforms have to find a way to monetize the users, monetize the content, monetize the services that they provide. And they do this on their own,” Gunday said. “But what Paymentwall enables them to do right now is integrate Paymentwall on any TV so they can process a payment.”
Paymentwall’s user interface (UI) allows consumers to choose content and pay for it by entering a credit card number, for example, using the numeric keys on the TV’s remote control. “They don’t have to type addresses,” Gunday said. “They don’t have to type in other details. Once that’s done, our system tokenizes the credit card details [and] saves it in our vault.”
The entry of the card number is a one-time action for consumers, Gunday added. “Our system is smart enough to recognize all the users using the TV once we store and tokenize the card details,” he said. “They don’t have to keep inputting the card details when they are using a credit card.”
Paymentwall also allows consumers to intitate transactions with secondary mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. “Most people, statistically speaking, always have a cell phone when they are sitting on their couch in the living room,” Gunday said. “They can pay on the mobile device and our system communicates directly with the TV and executes the payment on the phone, but indicates the fact that its executed through the TV via an API [application protocol interface].”
A demo of PW Smart TV is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWhQ0VDEL_Q&feature=youtu.be .