Every morning millions of people are commuting to work. Coffee shops are piled with rush hour traffic. Convenience stores are bombarded with hasty customers. Metros are filled to capacity with workers rushing to get to the office. This day and age – the digital era – is bustling with new innovation and speed. Time is of the essence and it passes quickly. In our lighting speed society, people work so efficiently and quickly that many business transactions are completed while commuting. However, in this picture of fast-paced innovation, we still lag behind buy using our bills and coins and searching our wallets/purses for a credit card that is accepted at our frequently pit stops. How is it that we have visions set for the future in almost every aspect, but we are still using a method of payment that goes back ages?
Well, soon that may not be a concern. Major cities across the globe have started to use alternate, quicker methods of payment. For example, people in San Francisco are paying with their smartphones; Londoners tap these special wristbands; Nairobi citizens simply pay via SMS; people in Lund, Sweden pay with a slight swipe of the palm. This does not go to say that the old-fashion wallet is not being pulled out in these cities- because they are (even more likely)- but these alternative forms are something that we simply can’t ignore.
These new methods all share two common aspects – they are digital and they are quick/convenient. Let’s explore into some of these methods, shall we?
First we have the “wave and go” method. This method is currently experiencing the largets traction in retail purchases. You simply wave some item over a reader and you are able to make low-price payments. The technology behind this method is NFC, or near field communication. This technology has been around for some time and is already installed in several smartphones (excluding the iPhone). NFC has many uses, but paying is one of them. People increasing are using contact-less cards equipped with NFC or their smartphones to make purchases.
One major backing of smartphone purchases is Google. Google has developed Google Wallet that allows users to make safe purchases using credit card accounts/bank accounts with just a smartphone. Even more, Android devices are often equipped with NFC so consumers can literally wave their Android phone and pay via Google Wallet. Of course Google Wallet is not the only option, but is certainly a major one.
Another Method is the electronic credit card. These cards, made from companies such as Coin, are ideas that set out to declutter your wallet. These cards basically store all of your credit and debit cards on one piece of plastic. You can switch between cards with a signal press of a button.
Now at first this may seem a bit unrealistic because of security reasons (what if you lose that one card), but there are features put in place. If you were to lose this card, you won’t have to worry. The card can only work if it is within a close proximity to your mobile phone. It is connected to your phone via a Bluetooth energy chip. In a nutshell, these cards are both more secure than paper cash and loose credit cards, while also making it easier to carry your money.
Now these are just two of possible method of payment. Other methods include using your fingerprint as a debit cards and using a smartwatch for payment (wave and go). However it will take time before these methods are wide spread. Still, it is exciting and scary to see how the future progresses. We will have access to technology that make payment and our lives in general easier, yet also makes us more vulnerable to attack from hackers. Well, it’s as they say, there can’t be light without some darkness.