IoT as automatic commerce enabler: seriously, who needs this?

Credit: Panchenko Vladimir /

It is inevitable ahead of MWC that there is a flurry of announcements and activity. From 5G to payments, from AR to security, the inbox is awash. The Internet of Things is no exception, and IBM has done more than most to bang the drum, toot its horn and blow its trumpet – especially in terms of turning the IoT into an automatic commerce enabler.

The company sees pretty much everything as an opportunity for commerce to take place. If you are out running, sensors will detect that desperate and dangerous wearing of your shoe tread and possibly order you up a pair – perfectly measured, of course. If it is a thing, and the thing is connected, there is a transaction to be had.

IBM has gone as far as team up with Visa to make all this possible.

Harriet Green, general manager of the Watson IBM project, is dead keen. “This combination of IBM’s industry leading IoT technologies with Visa payments services, signifies the next defining moment in commerce by allowing payments on any connected object, with new levels of simplicity and convenience for everyone.”

“Defining moment”?

Whilst acknowledging – even applauding – the ability to buy anything, anywhere at any time, the tiny part of you that is still human (as, according to Elon Musk, we must merge with machines or lose out) wants to beat its tiny human fists against the nearest wall.

Do we all want driverless cars? No – some of us really rather like driving. If we wanted to take a bus, we would. But then, if we needed to get across town for a meeting, we might want to hop into a Google bubble and review the meeting notes on the way.

Do we all want our detergent, running, shoes, milk and lavatory paper ordered for us automatically? No, not really. Commerce is just not like that. We want to go to the supermarket and browse for ideas and ingredients, albeit perhaps not always.

And what about delivery? Whether by drone, droid or mere human being, do we need to have delivery places installed in our houses for all these individual packages that will suddenly be arriving? Do we need to stay at home to receive the detergent ordered by Dash, fulfilled by Watson and paid for via Visa?

And Visa is but one payment option in a sea of them. No single payment option will become dominant – there are simply too many of them, and too many big players involved in developing commerce solutions. Every day, a new payments story breaks. Last week it was the struggle between Apple and the banks in Australia. This week it is the announcement that Reliance Jio and Uber have teamed up to allow drivers to accept JioMoney.

The tech world is going crazy with scenarios dreamed up in rooms that, clearly, have no connection with the real world – scenarios that shave a moment off our day here, a second off our leisure time there (the “connected home” is no different).

You have to wonder – is it because we actually do not know what we want anymore, or when we want it? Is it right that these miniscule ‘improvements’ are necessary, even desirable?

Even research into what Generation Y wants from money differs wildly. Last week there was a report that said they actually recoil from cash, that they do not connect a credit or debit card with money, and to them the device itself is money – a sort of data stream of it. This week, another study found the opposite – young people love cash, write cheques a lot, bank cheques on a regular basis and even write each other IoUs on the back of ATM receipts (probably).

Ahead of MWC, where the hype will be like a wall of noise, should we not take a breath and allow a little common sense to settle gently around us? [Good luck with that. – Ed.]

Be the first to comment

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.