In the development of payment options, few would’ve thought that cash could outlive the credit/debit card. The tangibility of cash, coupled with its lack of reliance on technology make it incredibly difficult to replace, and it’ll be some time before anyone is comfortable with the notion of a cash-free world. Outside of bills and coins, though, technology is evolving rapidly, and all bets are off as to the next decade’s dominant system of payments.
And credit cards are up against the ropes. Contactless payment technology has been matched by its mobile counterpart and, as smartphone payment becomes not only more sophisticated but more ubiquitous, the idea of carrying various bank cards will quickly fall into obscurity. The change has come perhaps earlier than most imagined given the developments in contactless payments and the extent to which cards are embedded into daily life.
Smartphones are equally embedded, though, and Apple Pay is quickly being rolled out into retail. The likes of Marks & Spencer, the Post Office, McDonalds, Costa, KFC, Starbucks and Topshop - among many others - are all accepting payment via iPhone, and the advantages for the consumer are numerous. Convenience is perhaps mobile’s trump card. Not that taking out a wallet, selecting a card and entering a pin is a particularly arduous process, but the modern consumer has their mobile device to hand at all times, and Apple Pay’s fingerprint scanning technology negates the need to even open the device and select an app. Transfers are instant and the device will then display exactly how much was charged - a concern with contactless card payment has been the inability to see (unless shown) the exact amount being charged.
Unique codes are generated for each payment, and the fingerprint recognition technology built into modern iPhones is generally deemed sophisticated enough to be more of a security measure than a pin code. There are some drawbacks; losing battery on your phone is irritating enough without the added stress of being without funds, and it will take some time for those less comfortable with new methods of payment to fully embrace such a streamlined system. But, with Samsung and Google also throwing their hats into the ring - with Samsung Pay and Android Pay respectively - the soon-to-be ubiquitous technology will very quickly find its feet.
Facebook, too, is doing its bit to rid the world of cards. The tech giant is reportedly set to give its Messenger app the ability to make payments in a similar fashion to the devices on which it sits. In 2014, Facebook hired David Markus - mobile payments guru of PayPal - to run the app, and it seems his expertise are being put to use. As posited by the Australian Financial Review, Facebook Pay alone is not especially interesting; it is what they could do with the data collected that is. The social media giant already has enough personal user information to build a comprehensive profile. Couple that with payment and credit data, and Facebook could well be poised to become a standalone credit company.
Millennials are, unsurprisingly, leading the charge. More than 74% of Millennials reported that they feel new technology makes their life easier, and they are naturally the early adopters of any new payment technology. A skepticism remains among older generations, but a report by FICO found that 32% of Millennials are likely to use mWallet services within the next year. The potential of mobile payment is huge, and those brought up surrounded by technology are better poised to appreciate that. From peer-to-peer micropayment to paying for airline tickets with a smartphone, those that embrace mobile payment will find their daily lives that little more streamlined.