Spending has never been easier. . .
Today, many of us use contactless cards and prefer to make purchases online, checking for the best deals and saving ourselves the hassle of visiting bricks and mortar stores. Of course, there are now a multitude of different options to choose from that stretch well beyond credit cards and bank notes. In fact, a recent report conducted by Paysafe suggested that in the next two years, over half of UK consumers expect not to carry cash when shopping. With that in mind, here are five of the most anticipated payments methods that will eventually replace your wallet.
1. Selfie pay
Interest in FaceTech has exploded in the last couple of years. In 2016, Mastercard released an app called Identity Check which validated user’s identities via their phone cameras. FinTech startup Square has also developed an app that lets coffee enthusiasts pay for their macchiatos using facial recognition technology – certain facial expressions can even act as passwords. Gradually, though, face focused payments are becoming less dependent on mobile technology.
2. Smile to Pay
Earlier this year, KFC’s new ‘KPRO’ restaurant in Hangzhou unveiled a new self service payment kiosk that lets customers pay for their meals with their smiles. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that. Users also have to enter their phone numbers so that the transaction can be verified via their Alipay account. What it doesn’t need, though, are customer’s phones themselves. The kiosk’s 3D camera can also tell whether or not somebody is trying to trick it by wearing disguises – namely glasses and wigs.
In the same vein: biometric technology is also allowing students at Brunel University, London, to buy groceries with their fingertips. The system works by linking a customer’s unique biometric vein map to their bank card and storing the details. From that point on, the customer can pay using their fingerprint alone. Although fingertip payments are common in Japan and other European countries including Poland, it’s yet to make an impact in the UK. Sthaler, the company behind the scanners now used at Brunel University’s Costcutter shop, has stated that other UK supermarkets have shown an interest. In future, this technology could be used to validate memberships, for instance at gyms or clubs.
4. Apple pay
While you might not be familiar with buying chicken with your smile or groceries with your finger, Apple Pay is far less novel. The service was announced at the 2014 iPhone 6 event and has been gradually adopted by thousands of retail and ecommerce businesses. Via TouchID, anybody with an Apple device can settle their bills by placing the device next to a card reader. This includes iPads, Mac computers and Apple watches. Apple Pay is essentially a digital wallet that’s supposedly safer and easier than physical payment cards, but its exclusivity could be viewed as counterproductive.
It’s difficult to talk about 21st century payments without mentioning cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. These digital currencies are facilitated by blockchain, a decentralised peer to peer network that permanently records transactions. Blockchain based payment software is steadily gaining traction in consumer markets, shaking off associations with criminal activities. As if cryptocurrencies weren’t controversial enough, Dangerous Things has created an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip implant that acts as a bitcoin wallet. The chip is implanted via injection and completely removes the need to carry any personal device or instrument for payment purposes.
From your trusty smartphone to a questionable implant, there are more ways to flash your cash (figuratively speaking, of course) than ever before. But, as always, there are certain considerations to be made. If you can pay for an item using only your smile, for instance, then how easy will it be to make accidental payments? As well as this, an increase in payment options could present more opportunities for fraudsters and cybercriminals to commit economic crimes. The crux of the issue, as always, is protecting customer and corporate data against malicious influences. Even if we all suddenly decide to swap our cards for implants, this remains the biggest challenge to the adoption of alternative payment methods.