Digital jewellery and handshakes posited as the future of payments

Digital jewellery and handshakes posited as the future of payments

Forget mobile payments, the next wave of innovation to strike the payments industry could see a simple handshake emerge as a novel form factor in the transfer of cash, according to a new crystal ball-gazing report from the UK Payments Council.

The report, Pay Your Way 2025: Future Payments, looks beyond the probable to take a broader look at what could become available in 2025 for the most enthusiastic consumers of technological advances. The Payments Council commissioned its own research into consumer perceptions of payments trends and asked futurologist Dr Ian Pearson to offer his view of the potential developments in payments.

The research, conducted among 4104 UK adults by Populis, found that more than half of Brits (51%) expect to be able to pay by scanning their thumbprint in the year 2025. They also expect to be occupying a digitslly-enabled home, with almost two thirds (65%) of people expecting to have their lights, ovens and computers triggered by speech.

Ian Pearson, who worked full-time as a futurolist for BT between 19991 and 2007, takes a more expansive view, suggesting that the transmission of data through electronic impulses in the skin could transform the ritual handshake into a payment mechanism.

Another scenario conjures up the idea of digital jewellery, such as lapel pins, rings, badges, necklaces, or earrings as a replacement for mobile phones in the form we know them now, with money transfer and authentication a natural extension.

Putting on his Google specs, Pearson imagines a future in which computer-generated images could be superimposed onto contact lenses. This, coupled with using gestures to pay for items, could make shopping more 'natural' and destroy many of the boundaries between web and high street shopping, he suggests.

Interestingly, whilst 51% expect to be able to pay by thumbprint scans, Pearson believes security concerns will be offputting for consumers. He suggests the security of this method might be improved if used in conjunction with printing unique electronic information on to the fingernail or in conjunction with digital jewellery.

Says pearson: "Technology will adapt to us, making it easier to pay for things, even for people who dislike technology. As in so many other areas, the more advanced technology becomes, the less visible it will be, and the more human."

Among the less far-sighted members of the public polled by Populis, the vast majority still expect to be able to use their familiar cash (68%), credit (73%) and debit (75%) cards in 2025. While only 42% of Brits think the technology will be in place to let them do away with their purse or wallet if they choose. the research also points to payments using a mobile phone becoming a mainstream option. Seven out of ten people expect to be able to use their mobile to make a payment.

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