The future is here. We’re creating self-driving cars. Virtual reality experiences. Even life-size robots.
In 2016, we’re just reaching the future predicted in sci-fi of the 50s and 60s. Even payment technology has come a long way in the past few decades, jumping from cash and checks to credit cards and online payments.
So how close are we to reaching the payment technology of sci-fi?
1. Automatic Payments
Science Fiction: Picture a trip to the grocery store. You pick up your groceries for the week and instead of going to the checkout, you walk straight out the door. No alarms sound and there is no security rushing towards you, because the door scans your cart and automatically deducts the money for your groceries out of your bank account. You’ll have a receipt e-mailed to you within 30 seconds.
Reality: RFID, or radio frequency identification, is a commonly-used technology that can be read by radio waves. This technology is already used in the payments industry in some versions of chip cards, and it’s commonly used in commerce as a form of asset tracking.
RFID chips can be as small as a grain of rice. The technology can easily be placed on any item in a store, as well as any wearable tech owned by a shopper, to link information for easy, automatic payment. While RFID still has problems, it’s not hard to see how in the future it could be a new payment solution.
2. Immediate Delivery
Science Fiction: You see a product online you’d like to own. You click the ‘Buy Now’ button and ten seconds later, there’s a knock at the door. It’s your product, all ready for you.
While not quite immediate, some companies are able to provide customers fast satisfaction with same-day delivery. Amazon now offers same-day delivery for a variety of products in 27 US cities. As companies grow, they should consider this option for their customers.
Reality: Another option which is a bit more futuristic is 3D printing. Right now, 3D printers cost just over $1,000 on average, but many futurists believe they’ll be a household item within a decade. This will make online shopping much easier—a company can sell the design for a 3D printed product while the customer downloads and prints the item at home. While it’s not attainable to everyone yet, some companies are looking into this new industry.
3. 100% Infallible Security
Science Fiction: You’re paying for something quite expensive from your home computer. Before the transaction is complete, your computer does a quick scan of your eyeball to recognize that it is, in fact, you making the purchase. The payment goes through, and you’re assured that no one else would have been able to purchase the item.
Reality: In a world of hackers and scammers, complete security seems like a fantasy. However, many payment companies are attempting to make checkouts secure with facial recognition technology. Each human’s face is unique, and the structure of your unique face can become a simple password. The 3D image of your face cannot be exactly replicated with a 2D photograph, so there is no fooling for this software.
Companies such as Amazon, MasterCard and Alibaba are currently looking into how to make ‘selfie payments’ into reality. Google currently has a beta program testing this in select locations. Soon, secure payments will be as easy as snapping a photo.
4. Protect Your Identity
Science Fiction: For whatever reason, you don’t want anyone to know what you’re buying online. You make your purchase and pay without a name, without a billing address, and without any trace of your identity. You know that the transaction is secure, but no one will follow it back to you.
Reality: Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin (^$608 USD) is becoming extremely popular among internet users for this very reason. Bitcoin transactions are simply linked to digital wallets instead of people, hiding the identity of both buyer and seller. While Bitcoin has a reputation for being linked to shady and illegal transactions, many legitimate companies, such as Overstock.com, Zappos, OK Cupid and more, accept it as a form of payment for customers who want to remain anonymous.
Cryptocurrency is one form of payment technology available immediately. Instabill offers bitcoin merchant accounts now, and you can sign up today.