Technology is moving incredibly fast. One minute we’re marvelling at mobile phones with colour screens, then suddenly they become the essential life blood of our day to day lives, turning into multi functioning pocket wizards that can do everything but take over our boring desk jobs. With mobile phones, and even wrist watches, enabled to pay for items with a single swipe, could this be the end of credit cards as we know them?
There was a time where walking into a shop and handing over your credit card also meant having your signature scrutinised by a gangly teenager, and was considered a mildly annoying but necessary evil. Then, everyone over the age of 40 groaned in unison as chip & pin was introduced; a safer way to use your card yes, but remembering those four numbers was akin to forced labour for some.
Now, we have reached the future and a new, contactless way of paying for things is working its way through the country. The actual technology behind contactless isn’t exactly new – it’s been around for ages, and has been used to replace tickets on public transport such as the Oyster card system in London, while many large buildings and offices control access with security passes that must be scanned against a reader.
Contactless payment is very simple – you take your goods to the counter, and wave the card over a specially designed reader and voila! You have made your purchase in less than a couple of seconds. For those wondering about the apparent lack of security in doing this, there are a few measures in place. Firstly, you can only pay for purchases under £15 using the contactless reader – anything over this amount requires you to use the card in the regular way, entering a 4 digit pin. You may also be occasionally asked at random to enter your pin anyway, to deter fraudulent use. The intended benefits of this method include reducing time spent queuing, although it will probably make no difference at Toys R Us during Christmas time.
Taking contactless technology a step further is the innovative Watch2pay, which can be used to make MasterCard payments. The user wears a fully functioning watch that contains a chip similar to the ones found in credit and debit cards, but allows you to simply wave the device over the reader and pay. As not all shops have the contactless reader yet, purchasing the watch entitles you to an additional standard sized MasterCard prepaid card and both gadgets are linked to the same account. This card differs from an ordinary credit card, in that you are only spending money that you’ve already loaded onto it, similar to a mobile phone top up, so there’s never any risk of going over your limit, and it’s great for parents with teenagers who get allowances or for those going abroad, as it means you have to carry less cash around.
Even more impressive is the ability to pay for things using your mobile phone. There are a multitude of free apps available that let you send and receive money instantly, including Barclay’s Pingit which lets users send up to £300 to friends, family and small businesses.
Amongst many of the other big name companies, O2 has launched its very own version called O2 Wallet, an app that not only allows you to transfer money to friends and family in an instant, but pay for things online as well, negating the tedious process of filling in card details and information. It works by storing all your card details on the app, which then fills in the necessary details for you. Not content with being part of the latest way to pay for things, O2 Wallet also enables smart phone users to scan items they see when they’re out shopping, shows them the best deals around and then lets them pay for it via their mobile phone.
The app is password protected for safety, and actually making a purchase requires another password to be entered. O2 says that your card details are not stored on the phone itself, but on a secure server, so in the event your phone is lost or stolen, your credit card details will not be divulged.
As new technology continues to impress us, there will always be something that can be made faster, or easier, and with these ideas crossing over into the way we spend money, we may be saying goodbye to the traditional credit card sooner than we think.
|Written by :
|Mark is the Marketing Director at CompareandSave.com, having previously worked at a number of media agencies on various financial brands. He now splits his time between promoting CompareandSave and investigating new ways to help our readers save money.
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