A FORMER banking executive has launched a new digital charge card that aims to help rid the world of the environmental impact of plastic cards.
Michael Donald, previously Chief Commercial Officer of MBNA, is the pioneer behind ImageNPay, the world's first payment system that enables users to personalise a virtual payment card on a smartphone with images and dynamic content.
To promote awareness of the damage caused by plastic payment cards, ImageNpay debuted a card design that features a video clip of wild dolphins gliding through the ocean.
Michael expects traditional card payments to become a relic of the past as people start to wake up to the environmental impact of plastic cards.
There are more than 22 billion plastic payment cards in circulation worldwide, according to data published by Nilson. Payment cards are typically issued in three year cycles with over six billion being re-issued in 2017 alone, most of which are made with unrecyclable PVC plastic.
“The plastic payment system is outdated, inefficient and ecologically damaging," says Michael.
“It costs roughly $7 dollars to issue one plastic card and around 5.7 million tonnes annually end up in landfill, where they take decades to break down into micro-plastics. This plastic pollution is unjustifiable in the 21st century mobile age, where consumers are increasingly conscious of their carbon footprint.
“The ability to pay with moving images and short videos on a smartphone is a major first in the world of payments. We chose to use dolphins as the first moving images as tribute to one of my heroes, David Attenborough, who has been a passionate promoter of taking action to reduce climate change."
Michael believes recent trends suggest that traditional payment cards will eventually be replaced by greener options, arguing: "No plastic - no pollution is the future solution."
To prove the point, he launched the ImageNPay app that provisions a virtual prepaid Mastercard directly to your phone where it can be used like any other Mastercard - but instead of details being embossed on unrecyclable plastic they are stored securely on a mobile phone.
From downloading via the app store to receiving your card and choosing your favoured image to go online takes less than 10 minutes.
"First and foremost, we set out to create an innovative new and frictionless way to pay for things that would be just as seamless but without the adverse environmental impact,” said Michael.
"The planet's oceans are awash with micro-plastics so anything we can do to halt that has got to be worthwhile. Thankfully, the growth of mobile phone payments combined with environmental concerns about plastic, suggests that the days are numbered for traditional credit and debit cards.
"We often hear about the so-called demise of cash, but all the recent data suggests that plastic cards will actually go first. Cash still plays an important role in our society and if it disappeared altogether it could have a destabilizing impact on some of the most vulnerable members of society - particularly those who do not have access to smartphones or the internet. However, we expect to see mobile payments reach parity with plastic and cash within a decade, with plastic payments then becoming virtually obsolete within another five to ten years."
However, Michael says the pre-paid charge cards like ImageNPay - offer a safe alternative to cash or plastic with all the same advantages without the negative environmental impact.
"With ImageNPay you can only spend what you decide to pre-pay onto the digital card on your mobile. You can then transact online safe in the knowledge that your main bank account is secure."
An early iteration of the ImageNPay app is already available to download in the Apple store, which can be used to make online transactions. An update is due in the next few weeks that will include the capacity to make contactless payments via Apple Pay and Android.