Intuitive payments

August 1, 2019 | By Hayden Harrison

In 2019, we embarked on a project to explore the future of payments and financial services. Having put the question to senior leaders of our business, we outlined a vision of a frictionless future of payments — comprised of five sub-themes.

Among these sub-themes: intuitive payments.

/ɪnˈtjuːɪtɪv/ • adjective
  1. using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning; instinctive.
    "his intuitive understanding of the user's real needs"

The past ten years has seen significant change in payments. As modern economies move decisively away from cash and cheques, digital payment experiences have evolved considerably too — the introduction of ‘wearables’ like pre-paid rings and smart watches are slowly gaining traction as more convenient means of payment than taking out a card or phone. 

Today, technology has advanced to a point where payments are fast and safe; the challenge for the future will be to make payments simpler. To make them more in-tune with the way we live, work and do business.

Our hope and expectation for the frictionless future of intuitive payments is that:

  • Technology will eliminate checkouts from the shopping experience. Our money will work smarter and harder as payments blend into the background

  • Sending money to friends, family and service providers will be dynamically integrated with our digital experiences

  • Paper bills and invoices will be replaced by electronic payment requests that we fulfil quickly and easily, with full control

Where do we start? On the whole it means innovating more thoughtfully; considering how payments technologies can better enable the day-to-day activities of the people and businesses we’re designing them for.


Liz Oakes, EVP for Strategy and Operations Excellence for Product & Innovation:
“It’s about going back to that baseline customer experience; making things easier for everyone.” 

A colleague shared an anecdote about a lecture theatre at a US college. The door to exit this lecture theatre had a handle, despite being a ‘push’ door, and every student attempting to sneak out unnoticed would instinctively pull on the door causing it to rattle noisily in its frame. The college professors, having had enough of the interruptions, arranged to have the handle removed and replaced with a flat panel so the students could sneak out unnoticed.

The same principle applies in payments. If a technology or innovation is counter-intuitive, or introduces unnecessary friction to the process, it’s failed.

And that’s across all payments: at the point of sale, whether that’s in-store or online; transferring money to friends or family; or paying bills. But while the aim in all these scenarios is to make the payment invisible, we mustn’t allow them to become opaque. One of our key focus areas at the moment is to resolve friction in bill payments by blending convenience with control.


Dick Paul, VP for Global Bill Pay Strategy:
“The future will make... paying bills a truly frictionless experience."

The maturation of artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to fuel the rise of autopilot solutions that perform tasks without needing consumer intervention. Digital assistants will automate day-to-day cash decisions, including everything from spending loyalty points and cancelling unused subscriptions to financing credit cards.

We’re progressing in the right direction, but what does the future hold? We hope to make payments increasingly passive, providing the tools and technologies that allow them to blend into the background. In doing so, they’ll become more of a lifestyle-enabler.

In the frictionless future, payments integrate with our digital lives seamlessly and intelligently. Our unique biometrics and our personalities can all be linked to pay. ‘Would you prefer to pay using touch, feelings, or your smile today?'

Join the conversation: #FrictionlessFutureofPayments

Hayden Harrison, marketing and communications, Mastercard