The current generation of digital payment terminals in retail shops and supermarkets aims for efficiency and effectiveness. This results in payment routines that are ever faster and simpler. Nowadays, with NFC technology, a payment routine is reduced to a swift waving of a smart phone or a credit card near a digital device. At GROUND EIGHT, we believe this evolution comes with a pitfall. The payment interaction itself diminishes and becomes more abstract, up to the point where it vanishes completely. We regret this loss of tangibility and expressiveness.
We wondered if it would be possible to design a digital payment interaction that would offer the user some of the physical richness that accompanies a cash money transaction. So, through a substantial series of iterations, we designed the Experimental Payment Terminal, or EPT. The EPT wants to combine the flexibility and availability of digital money with the touch and feel of handling real cash.
Together with Worldline, a provider of payment systems and transactions, we set up an experiment in which we compared the EPT with the XENTA Contactless Reader, a well-known Worldline payment terminal. In this experiment, 25 participants executed a payment routine on both terminals, and were asked to answer a series of open and closed questions.
The results were interesting. A fair part of the participants considered the XENTA as the more simple, fast and pragmatic terminal, while the EPT was the more beautiful, surprising and stimulating one. Moreover, the participants indicated that the EPT, more than the XENTA, made the payment transaction more approachable. They said that they somehow could “feel” the flow of the money, and experienced the feeling of having left something behind. We suggested that the EPT made its user more aware and conscious of his financial behavior.