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For decades, it was cash, cards and checks, but the way we pay has evolved massively in recent years. Internet shopping brought the high street into our homes, mobile payments put power in our pockets, and contactless cards make transactions as simple as ‘tap and go’.
What’s next? It probably comes as no surprise that we expect the smartphone will continue to replace the wallet through apps like SnapScan , but other more out-there payment methods are emerging too. Here are a few trends that could take hold in the years ahead.
We can already use our fingerprints to pay in app stores, so why not at the checkouts of regular stores too? Biometric payments are actually a lot closer than you might think, successfully trialled in Norway last year by Mastercard in cooperation with Norwegian tech company Zwipe.
Their solution is still a card, but it’s linked to your fingerprint for your convenience. Fingerprints aren’t perfect (you’d probably still need to carry a card and remember a PIN number as a back-up), but prints are a lot harder to steal than a card, and the extra security could help lift those limits that are capping our contactless payments.
Biometrics don’t stop at fingerprints of course, but they’re the most likely to be adopted as payment technology in the near future. Having said that, banks in Britain and Canada have already started to trial heartbeats as a form of identification, so the future may yet surprise us all.
A ‘secret handshake‘
Back in 2013, ad company 22Squared tried to integrate the code of the playground into our payments. The idea, Secret Handshake, is the combination of a leap motion controller and a point-of-sale API that allows the consumer to pay with gestures. That gesture would be unique to you, so, theoretically, you can make it as convoluted as you like – – although we wouldn’t recommend it.
It’s unlikely to be the most reliable of payment options, but as part of a two-factor authentication process it could at least be secure. Sadly, it’s all gone a bit quiet on this front, but that leaves plenty of time to perfect your ‘handshake’ should the idea ever resurface.
Watches, wristbands, rings
Wearables have been touted as a future payment method for years, but in 2015 we finally began to take them seriously. Credit for that should probably go to Apple for designing a smartwatch that people were excited about wearing on their wrist, and – paired with Apple Pay – a function that is genuinely useful.
Inevitably, the success of Apple Watch could lead to a wave of others, and PayPal now has an app available for just about every smartwatch.
Wearable payments aren’t just limited to the latest smartwatches, though. Disney has introduced a ‘MagicBand’ wristband for payment in its parks and hotels, while jewelry too is being discussed as a viable payment option.
Internet of Things
Finally, once your household becomes a network of connected things, it’s only a matter of time before payments begin to crop up here, there and everywhere.
This process has already begun. Earlier this year Amazon introduced its new Dash buttons, which stick to your furniture and allow you to purchase particular products at the push of a button. Attach a Dash button for washing powder to your washing machine, for example, and the next time you’re running low you can just push it to order. The button has already been synced with your account, so the payment process is as simple as that.
The same kind of technology is also being integrated into our appliances, like smart fridges designed to monitor your supplies so you never run out of kitchen essentials. The possibilities don’t stop there either, with coffee machines that keep you well-stocked with caffeine, to light-fittings that orders a new bulb as soon as one blows.
At this point payments don’t even feel like a transaction at all. Conveniently – and perhaps dangerously – they’re built into our routines, chores and even hobbies. It’s a brave new world, so make sure you have a decent banking app to keep one eye on your balance, and mobile security, such as ESET mobile security, to keep yourself safe.