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06/06/2018

Payment Technology: Past, Present and Future


Paying for goods and services is pretty much as old as the world itself. The ways in which we make payments have evolved with time, and in recent decades, the means of payment have seen a phenomenal acceleration. This is largely due to the development of computers, smartphones, the internet and new information technologies.

Let’s go back a few years and explore the history of the various payment means that have been/are on offer to us!

Cash 

The earliest humans have ever heard of cash is in 2,000 years BC. Notes, however, appeared around the year 800. The first £5 notes were distributed by the Bank of England in 1793. Still in use today, notes and coins are probably the most palpable representation of money. Fun fact: In Kenya, it is against the law to walk around with no money in your pocket.

Cheques

They arrived in France in 1826 and are still in use to this day. Owning a cheque-book account within a bank was common up until the end of the 1960’s. Because they were causing huge paper flows, multiplied transactions to process and were easily counterfeited, many countries stopped using cheques when the plastic card was invented. 

Credit card

Born in the US, the payment card revolutionised the way people paid. The UK’s first credit card was issued on the 29th of June 1966 by Barclays. The internet banking, which most of us use daily, made its apparition thirty years later, in 1997. If the internet brought us online banking, it also started the reign of fraudsters and phishing websites. Chip and pin cards only appeared in 2003, in a hope to reduce card fraud: the embedded chip stores sensitive information more securely than the magnetic strips used to. 

Contactless 

Ten years ago, there was a small revolution: the contactless payment arrived on the market! Commonly used across shops, pubs and even transports, contactless seems to have glorious days ahead of itself. 

Smartphones

The younger consumers are drawn to a new type of payment: they store their bank card details onto their smartphones, usually via their bank’s official app, and off they go! With the rise of Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay, more and more purchases are made without even opening a wallet. 

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies are a form of digital or virtual currency that can be transferred directly from person to person over the internet. Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency on the digital currency scene. Companies such as Microsoft, PayPal, SubWay, and Expedia, just to name a few, accept Bitcoins as a payment. Cryptocurrencies are increasingly being used in everyday life, and it's time to consider it as a legitimate payment method. 

Sub-dermal implants

This innovation comes from the Northern part of Europe. Sweden is one of the world’s most advanced countries in terms of Fintech, with only 2% of all transactions made with cash.  The rest is split between credit cards and other forms of electronic payment. More than a mean of payment, the sub-dermal implants can be used to lock/unlock doors, store important medical data or even grant access to an office building. 

Fingopay

This system is currently being trialled in a London supermarket. Fingopay is a biometric payment system that uses the unique vein pattern in fingertips to purchase things. Experts believe this has much potential, as it would be a more secure payment system, which would be almost impossible to hack/copy. But then, if someone did find a way to get a hold of your information, the issue would be that you can’t change your fingertips…

Technology is evolving fast and no one could guess what it has got in store for the future. Maybe we’ll end up paying for goods with facial recognition or the unique print of our tongues?

How do you think we’ll be paying for our goods in 5 years’ time?
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