Of all the steps in the so-called customer journey, payment is the least pleasant. That’s why companies are increasingly trying to reduce the time it takes to pay for something online, if not hiding it behind the curtain of experience altogether.
Amazon’s 1-Click, which was (controversially) patented in the US in 1999, was an early instance of this trend. (They would sue Barnes & Noble for their analogous “Express Lane” service only 23 days after the patent was established.) Licensed to Apple in 2000, the patent is scheduled to expire in 2017, so it’s likely the simplified checkout procedure will spread to other retailers’ e- and m-commerce worlds soon.
Reducing the moment of sale to a still-finer point, Uber automatically charges the user every time the service is used. By requiring payment information to open an account rather than complete a purchase, Uber judiciously hides the POS more or less completely behind the curtain. No more counting change in the back of a cab while you’re steps from your destination: the experience is frictionless.
With the integration of buy buttons into Google's mobile search results and Facebook's news feed, and with Apple Pay and Android Pay hooking directly into web and in-store purchases, the seamless point of sale is embedding itself even more deeply into our everyday lives.