Moving towards a cashless society: weird ways to pay

  • Samsung’s CCP is broadening the appeal of contactless transactions
  • Swish is poised to transform Sweden into a cashless society within five years
  • Visa’s payment-enabled sunglasses show that any device can be a payment device
  • China’s Face++ enables you to pay with your face
  • You can now get a pizza and pay for it with your basketball shoes
  • Are we ready to go completely cashless?

The exponential growth of the Internet of Things offers payment companies the opportunity to venture beyond cards, POS devices and even smartphones, to a vast ecosystem of IoT-connected devices. By 2020, we will have 24 billion connected ‘things’ worldwide, 5 billion of which will be consumer connected devices. This means that in the not too distant future, anything and everything you (can) carry with you, no matter where you are, can ultimately be used to make payments. Simply swipe, tap or wave the wearable device that stores your payment methods and account information in front of a contactless payment reader and away you go.

Like technology, money has also changed a lot in the last fifty years. Shopping used to mean carrying coins, bills and even chequebooks around, but now we pay for our groceries, rent, taxis, movies and takeaways without fumbling for any of that. Although we may think that electronic payments and cards are mere alternatives for cash, we are actually well on our way to a cashless society and potential payment devices could include anything from a card to a rubber wristband, watch, keyfob or a piece of jewellery. Chips could be embedded into clothing so you could even pay with your sleeve or your shoes. Whether we like it or not, we are progressing towards a cashless society, getting rid of the hassle of coins, reducing the cost of printing money and lessening the threat of counterfeit notes.

Samsung’s CCP is broadening the appeal of contactless transactions

In a bid to bring digital cash to the masses, Samsung has launched a Contactless Payment Platform or CCP, which can basically turn any object into a contactless payment device. This means that people will soon be able to pay with their watch, key fob, wristband, clothing or basically any device of their choice. These chipped devices would link with their payment cards or bank accounts and manage them via smartphone apps. This would enable them to transfer money, putting time windows on transactions and setting limits to spending amounts. The chips could also be topped up with cash – the user could, for instance, hand over the cash at a point-of-sale terminal at a shop and have it loaded onto the chip. Safety features include the ability to deactivate the payment chip with the smartphone app. Even people who don’t have access to bank accounts or smartphones can soon enjoy CCP, making contactless payment options available to groups that are now excluded, such as the homeless, refugees or even children. With CCP, digital cash payments can also be easily combined with vouchers, loyalty points, travel cards and more, enabling clients to combine various contactless services. The concept will be tested next month among 15,000 European customers with a view to further expansion.

 A robotic hand holding a credit card
Whether we like it or not, we are progressing towards a cashless society

Swish poised to transform Sweden into a cashless society within five years

Like its Nordic neighbours Finland, Norway and Denmark, Sweden is becoming a nearly cashless society, blazing a trail in Europe with shops, banks, buses and even churches and street vendors all favouring virtual payments over traditional coins and bills. With Swish being the most popular free mobile cash-transfer app in Sweden, cash is no longer king and Sweden is estimated to be a cashless society within approximately five years. A consortium of Nordic financial institutions conceived and funded the C2C peer-to-peer money transfer app that launched in December 2012 and is now used by over 50 percent of the Swedish population and by 90 percent of adults under thirty. In fact, the app currently counts 5 million users. With Swish you can instantly transfer cash; all you need is the phone number of the recipient. Because of its easy to use interface, it’s even used for church collections with churches displaying their phone numbers and asking parishioners to use Swish for their contributions. One church in Stockholm said that 85 percent of their collections last year were received by phone. Some street vendors and homeless magazine sellers in Sweden have signs that say: “if you don’t have cash, you can also Swish.” The country even saw its first Swish mugging last year with robbers beating up a man and forcing him to ‘Swish’ them. The peer-to-peer service has become so popular that some Swedish banks have more Swish transactions than cash withdrawals. In a recent interview, Björn Ulvaeus, former ABBA band member, mentioned why he thinks a cashless society will help fight crime: “Take it away and thieves have no foolproof way to sell their stolen goods, drug dealers no way to hide their deals, and eventually the whole shadow economy collapses.”

Visa’s payment-enabled sunglasses show that any device can be a payment device

Last month, credit card giant Visa announced its new pilot program of contactless payment-enabled sunglasses that took place at the Visa-sponsored World Surf League’s 2017 Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast competition. The sunglasses look like a regular pair of shades but they have a tiny NFC chip that enables the wearer to use them as a contactless payment method. That means that on a trip to the beach, you can leave your wallet at home. To pay for something, all you need to do is swipe or tap the shades, which are connected to a pre-loaded payment card, on an NFC enabled point-of-sale terminal. Visa’s objective with the payment sunglasses is to gauge whether there’s interest from banks or brands. Even though the glasses are just a gimmick and Visa indicated that they have no plans to launch them worldwide, they do demonstrate what we all know lies ahead: anything can become a payment device.

China’s Face++ enables you to pay with your face

Facial recognition technology has existed for many years but computers are now using deep learning to become increasingly accurate at recognising faces, and in the interest of both convenience and surveillance, facial recognition technology is expanding quickly. The technology has become so accurate that it is poised to transform everything from policing to transportation services and the way people interact every day with stores and banks. In China, facial recognition systems provide access to buildings, trace criminals and now also authorise payments. Technology from Face++ (pronounced: “face plus plus”), a $1 billion Chinese startup located in Beijing, is already being used in various apps and enables users to transfer money via Alipay. The Face++ software is also used by Didi, China’s version of Uber, to enable passengers to confirm the legitimacy of their driver. This is done by means of a ‘liveness test’, which requires a person to speak and move their head while the app scans their face, simultaneously tracking 83 different points. Local governments use Face++ to identify suspected criminals in footage from surveillance cameras, which is particularly impressive, because the footage is often far from perfect, and images on file may be many years old. What appeals to people in China most is the convenience of the technology. It enables you to gain access to apartment complexes while restaurants and shops use the technology to improve their customer experience. Not only can customers pay for products or meals, but facial recognition systems can also enable staff members to greet their customers by name.

You can now get a pizza and pay for it with your basketball shoes

Last month, in an advertising collaboration with the NCAA, Pizza Hut launched 64 pairs of handmade, limited edition ‘Pie Tops’ sneakers, coinciding with the popular annual basketball tournament in the US. The advertising campaign features basketball star Grant Hill ordering pizza with a touch of a button on the tongue of his special connected basketball shoes. Pressing the button activates the Pie Tops app and geolocation, connecting the wearer to their closest Pizza Hut branch, it places an order for whatever style of pizza the wearer has saved in the app and then the pizza is delivered straight to his door. Although the advert seems like a cheesy joke, the Pie Tops are actually very real. Most of the exclusive shoes were sent to ‘influencers’ and people in the media, but a few lucky Pizza Hut fans got some of these crazy connected sneakers as well. With more than seventy percent of Pizza Hut clients already ordering via mobile, the ability to order pizza with your shoes seems like the next step into the future of contactless payments.

Are we ready to go completely cashless?

As convenient as cashless payments may be, there are obviously concerns and challenges as well. Cases of electronic fraud are on the increase and we need to ask ourselves whether an entirely electronic system in which each and every transaction is recorded isn’t actually threatening our right to privacy. People such as pensioners or others reluctant to use new technology because they are not familiar with it or struggle to understand it could be disadvantaged. Because the concept of money will no longer be something physical but rather completely abstract, others worry that young people might be tempted to spend money they actually don’t have. Although cash is no longer king, it is also not dead yet. Even if, in the next couple of years, we will hardly be using any cash, becoming a fully cashless society requires political decisions and is still quite a way away.

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This article is written by Richard van Hooijdonk

This article is written by Richard van Hooijdonk

Trendwatcher, futurist and international keynote speaker Richard van Hooijdonk takes you to an inspiring future that will dramatically change the way we live, work and do business.

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