Return on Innovation: Winning in Invisible Banking

How can wearable payments enable seamless experiences for resorts, gaming and beyond with a fashion-forward approach?

Consumers expect more from experiences than ever before: to gain loyalty, payment experiences must be seamless and frictionless as standard, while also representing social or cultural collateral. Partnering with global financial services leader J.P. Morgan, frog has developed a blueprint to deliver payments ecosystem innovation for those looking to unlock opportunities in the wearable payments devices space.  

With technology accelerating to match customer expectations, it’s a good moment to reflect on what got us here and how the narrative has evolved. For instance, while credit cards have grown in prominence over the last decades, the prominence of a physical card hasn’t: it’s the benefits and experiences the cards enable that have become the conversation centerpiece. Gone are the days of the titanium card, enter the days of the card as an unlock to a VIP lifestyle. 

frog co-innovates with partners to drive growth and orchestrate customer-centric transformation. In collaboration with J.P. Morgan, we’re exploring the unfolding world of payments experiences in invisible banking. Now is the time for leaders to go beyond thinking in terms of transactions—and instead develop the idea of payments as embedded in every facet of the customer journey. 

This process involves imagining and developing entire ecosystems across multiple industries—from automotive to healthcare—with a breadth of technology and capabilities that demonstrate the true potential for payments to exceed current expectations. Eventually, every brand will seamlessly integrate financial services into their offering to further remove friction across all stages the guest experiences—but that alone won’t be enough to win invisible banking. 


The Invisibility Factor 

A new generation of digital banking is soon to be at the altar with the converging worlds of technology and fashion, embedding itself into the very fabric of our days and routines. Payment-device-as-accessory is on its way to becoming an emerging genre of smart devices. Thoughtfully designed, super-powered rings, bracelets, necklaces and more that service multiple (and very different) sets of needs than current smartwatches or even smartphones, can deliver.  

Expect to see more businesses co-designing these tech-fueled lifestyle accessories. Leaders will set themselves apart by mastering the art of delivering a simplified user experience, elevated by a sense of desirability. 

As part of their ongoing collaboration, frog has partnered with J.P. Morgan Payments to explore prototypes of a pre-launch payments wearable to accelerate innovation, unlock new experiences and ignite the imaginations of its clients. First up is the Resorts, Gaming and Entertainment (RGE) industry, where staying present is a luxury. 


Why an RGE wearable? 

In the fantastical world of RGE, the magic of the physical experience is central. But that magic can fade if guests remain constantly connected to (and disrupted by) the outside world. But what if people could leave their smartphones in their pocket, or even in their room, yet maintain full access to all RGE services and experiences? What if the struggle to live in the moment could be eased, empowering guests to revel in real time? 

Many resorts-driven experiences have been digitized, helping to remove friction across customer journeys: from moments like concierge check-in and engagement, to digital identity confirmation, guest room or event entrance and of course purchasing anything from retail to sundries to spa visits. An ever-expanding number of establishments are working to rapidly adopt cashless experiences on the casino floor—furthering the removal of any barriers between guests enjoying themselves on-site.  

frog and J. P. Morgan’s concept wearable is a discreet, resin-based digital wallet, referred to as the “U-Ring.” Designed as a stand-out item, the U-Ring could enable J.P. Morgan’s RGE clients to create effortless loyalty-driving consumer experiences across their ecosystems, completely blending the physical with the digital worlds. The frog team knew the wearable must deliver on integrated experiences, moments of customer self-expression and delight. It needed to be something the industry had never seen. Better than a key card, a super app or a credit card—the U-Ring is an all-in-one wearable that delivers cachet and panache.

A creativity blueprint
Drawing on our dual understanding of wearables and invisible banking, J.P. Morgan and frog have devised a three-part creativity blueprint. Leaders in banking, entertainment, fashion and beyond can take inspiration from these high-level principles as they prepare for incoming seismic shifts:
1Form follows emotion:

This takes us back to frog’s founding sentiment. Forget the phrase “form follows function.” In their work together, frog founder Hartmut Esslinger and Steve Jobs shared a vision that innovation was rooted not in functionality, but the emotions consumers have with a brand’s products, services and experiences.

The physical incarnation of a digital wallet, beautifully designed wearables give users something tangible to connect with. More fitting in Milan than Wall Street, these desirable yet subtle accessoriesembedded with near-field communication (NFC), finger-print scanners and cashless technology providers (such as Sightline, a J.P. Morgan investment)could deliver familiar, yet entirely new, payment experiences: including enabling consumers to pay directly and securely across resorts landscapes.

2Solve for experience:

Leaders must deeply integrate profit-driving offerings that meet the consumer’s emotional needs inside of a broader experiential focus, supported by underlying next generation technology. 

There are cultural indicators that staying present is the new luxury. Consumers are always connected, consistently distracted and reminded of their status at every turn. Resort guests expect high-end experiences and are willing to invest time, money and energy while on property. Resort operators must create new, unexpected experiences that unlock new behaviors, deliver greater and more trackable loyalty benefits and ultimately differentiate in order to keep guests returning and recommending.  

3Predict the curve, then follow it:

Co-innovating with partners can help to identify areas of unknown need and opportunity, deliver a shared vision and courage to pursue tremendous, industry-changing things together. The combination of their strengths can help push past the curve, strategically evolve through scale and deliver broader systemic adoption by their competitors.

Woven into the growing RGE culture of being present is the consumer desire to retain the benefits brought by connected consumer experience. As with any new technology that changes consumer behavior and creates enormous business value, the early adopters cross the business value chasm by serving the needs of small highly influential segments, like high rollers at casinos, paving the way for mass adoption.

The beginning of a revolution  

RGE is just one industry that will be impacted by the invisible banking revolution: broader applications for the creativity blueprint, including in healthcare, construction and virtual goods, are being explored as emerging technology begets brave clients. By exploring the frontier that these wearables represent, frog and J.P. Morgan are expanding their position as B2B2C innovation leaders—and welcoming even more partners to join them in building the future of payments.

Written by Sean Rhodes with support from the J.P. Morgan frog Wearables team: Nick Spriggs, Shira Wheeler, Kristin Koonmen

Sean Rhodes
Executive Creative Director North America
Sean Rhodes
Sean Rhodes
Executive Creative Director North America

Sean Rhodes is a leader with a passionate belief in the power of design, technology and business to shape the world we want to live in. His focus has been building world-class teams and environments for multi-disciplinary collaboration that delivers creativity and productivity for product and service design.

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