In the last few decades we have come on leaps and bounds in how we use money – in terms of how we store it, spend it and keep it secure. It was Barclaycard which introduced the very first credit card in the UK back in the 1960s, sending cards out to all their customers and introducing the first ATM cash machine a year later.
Since the introduction of credit and debit cards, the need to carry lots of cash has been reducing, and with the latest developments in payment solutions people are starting to wonder whether we might eventually move towards a totally cashless world. Since 2008 contactless payment using credit and debit cards has been available through Barclaycard, and similar technologies have been used for prepaid payment cards such as Oyster cards.
Recently Travel for London (TFL) introduced contactless payment capabilities on most London buses and there has been a big uptake on this option. If the UK’s future looks anything like that of Hong Kong or Tokyo, it is quite possible that contactless payment for public transport could be the tipping point for the UK’s traditional chip and PIN machines to start falling out of favour. One of the main barriers to a greater uptake of contactless is consumer concerns over security, but as contactless payment becomes normalised and people are better educated about how secure the technology is, customer confidence will likely grow.
Meanwhile, the Barclaycard PayTag (a sticky backed RFID chip which can be stuck to your mobile phone) is gaining traction as an even more convenient way to pay without the need to get your wallet out at all. Barclays also recently introduced an app called Pingit which allows customers to transfer money from one bank account to another without the need to exchange bank details. This is another big step towards fast and secure money handling that doesn’t require cash.
So what is next, and how far away are we from a cashless society? A recent study by PayYourWay.org.uk showed that although most people predict there will be cash in their pockets for the foreseeable future, many believe that in the next 10-15 years the innovations in payment solutions could involve such futuristic options as paying by thumb print or contact lens scanners, and mobile phone payment is expected to become one of the main ways to pay for services – something which is supported by the current innovations already being rolled out in this area.
We might not be quite ready for a fully cashless world, but financial institutions are racing to develop the most secure and convenient ways to make payment faster and easier for consumers; so it’s likely that the innovations will keep rolling in over the next few years.