Comic Relief is aiming for a future where its programmes are experienced in virtual reality and donations happen within the experience via micropayments.
Zenon Hannick, Comic Relief CTO, discussed the future of payment mechanisms with V3 recently, explaining that he is looking for new ways to engage with the next generation of consumers.
"Digital is obviously central to that. We need to provide easier ways to donate. So we're looking to create the next experience that fits with where the audiences are and how they like to pay," he said.
Hannick also explained that Comic Relief has recently implemented payment services from Braintree, replacing an old and no longer fit-for-purpose system.
"There's something interesting about making immersive experiences with VR [virtual reality] and how you embed micropayments. When you provide an experience that's long-lived and provides a continuous engagement, can you have a micropayment strategy across that long-lived engagement?" he said.
Hannick explained that the challenge for Comic Relief is to provide an engagement that lasts throughout the year rather than simply over the course of the Red Nose and Sports Relief campaigns.
"You have to show the audience where the money has gone so they feel engaged. We as a charity fund other projects, so it's about telling their stories. There's a powerful story we can create about how the money we take can change people's lives, and VR can be a big part of telling that story," he added.
Hannick clearly sees VR as the future platform for Comic Relief, but he doesn't see wide-scale adoption of the technology until at least 2018.
"2017 will be the trough of disappointment for VR. There'll be some interesting story-telling experiences next year, but 2018 will be when it goes mass medium," he said.
Hannick concluded by stating that his organisation needs to "nail digital story-telling".
"In the linear TV world we've occupied, we show comedy followed by showing the need [for donations] and then allowing those donations, then showing where the money's gone. In the VR space it'll be much the same, but not so linear, so we're exploring those spaces," he said.
"Another area we're looking at is a payment mechanism around social. We're exploring that this year, so we're trying to see where that world is moving."
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