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IBM and Visa Want To Revolutionize the Way We Buy . . . Everything
Posted February 16, 2017
IBM and Visa Want To Revolutionize the Way We Buy . . . Everything
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By Shirley Siluk. Updated February 16, 2017 10:21AM

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While mobile payment apps, such as Apple Pay, already make it easier for people to buy things without having cash or bank cards on hand, IBM envisions even taking smartphones out of the equation by enabling purchases through the growing Internet of Things (IoT).

Working with Visa as a partner, IBM today unveiled a new effort to bring the point of sale for anything to, well, pretty much anywhere there's an adequately intelligent device connected to the IoT. That could mean nearly 21 billion potential points of sale by 2020, according to a recent IoT prediction from the analyst firm Gartner Inc.

The new program with Visa was announced today during a two-day "Genius of Things Summit," marking the grand opening of IBM's Watson Internet of Things headquarters in Munich. At the event, IBM also kicked off new IoT partnerships with Arrow Electronics, Bosch, Indiegogo and French national railway SNCF, among others.

'Point of Sale Is Everywhere'

Through the new partnership with Visa, IBM aims to provide customers using its Watson cognitive computing platform for IoT with cloud-based access to Visa's payment services. This would enable IBM customers to use Visa's secure Token service, which replaces payment card information with a unique digital identifier, to support purchases through a wide variety of connected devices.

"As devices begin to get more and more connected, the point of sale is everywhere," said Avin Arumugam, Visa's senior vice president for Internet of Things. "The Watson IoT platform will make it really simple for developers to pull the payment application into their devices using the APIs that IBM exposes."

For example, a motorist with a car connected to the Watson platform might be able to receive an alert when a car part needs to be replaced and then order that part or schedule a service appointment with a single push of a button. Through IoT-integrated payments that could connect cars and gas pumps, the driver could also pay for gas automatically when filling up at a service station.

$200M IoT Center in Munich

Among the other new IoT programs IBM unveiled in Munich today: Watson platform access for entrepreneurs using the Indiegogo crowd-funding service and Arrow Electronics' idea-to-production service; collaboration between IBM Watson and Bosch's IoT Suite for the industrial Internet of Things; a Watson partnership with France's SNCF to gather and analyze real-time train, track and station data to improve rail customer service and security; and an "ecosystem initiative" that will see teams from many other companies, including BNP Paribas and Capgemini, working with IBM on innovations at its new IoT headquarters in Munich.

Part of IBM's $3 billion plan for developing IoT products and services, the Munich center was announced in late 2015 and built for around $200 million. The facility is designed to foster IoT collaboration between IBM and a wide range of partners.

Some 6,000 organizations are already working with IBM on new ways to use the Watson cognitive computing platform through the Internet of Things, according to Harriet Green, IBM Watson IoT general manager for cognitive engagement and education.

The new Munich center is "a place where you can get your hands on IBM's IoT platform, and even take Watson for a spin," Green said in a blog post today. "But it's also a place where together we advance the science of the Internet of Things and drive industry transformation."

Image Credit: Visa.

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