September 28, 2017While data analytics for targeting and marketing to customers dominated the new solutions available to e-commerce merchants at Shop.org in Los Angeles this week, one payments-centric technology took center stage both at the West Coast event and back East. Visa and Mastercard each unveiled partnerships this week with their digital wallets at the center of solutions enabling a virtual, immersive shopping experience. According to a recent report, the next generation coming of age—known as Gen Z or the iGen and born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s—want to shop using virtual or augmented reality immediately. At a media-only preview of new technology at Shop.org on Tuesday, Visa and its partner Payscout demonstrated a VR experience with low barriers of entry for consumers. The company has produced a low-cost, cardboard viewer that works, initially, with only Android devices—the dominant mobile operating system globally. For payment, the solution requires consumers to be enrolled in Visa Checkout. According to Payscout COO Juan Sotelo, Visa and Payscout chose to use low-end hardware that worked only with Android to give as many consumers as possible the chance to experience virtual commerce as soon as possible. The company is enabling real-world transactions with several online retailers, Sotelo said. Separately on Monday, Mastercard also made a significant VR/AR announcement. Mastercard has taken a higher-end approach, partnering with luxury brand Swarovski to enable purchases in its home décor line. Like Visa, Mastercard is enabling purchases with its Masterpass digital wallet, but unlike the Visa/Payscout model, consumers use commercially available VR hardware to access the experience.