News & Views - Savantor

Future payments landscape

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

If predictions of where we will be and what we will be doing in the future were reliable we would all be flying around on jet packs and robots would be doing the housework as predicted by BBC’s Tomorrows World back in the 1970’s. Sadly that isn’t the case so any predictions of how we will be paying in 10 or 20 years time and whether we will still be using cash are about as reliable as those jet packs.

Nevertheless the Payments Council and Skrill have both produced reports looking ahead to predict what the payments landscape might look like. The Payments Council report ‘Pay Your Way 2025: Future Payments’ asked consumers what they expected from emerging payment technologies -- and also asked a professional futurologist for his predictions about how consumers will pay for goods and services in the future.

The research unsurprisingly revealed that consumers expect mobile payments to catch on with seven out of 10 survey respondents saying they envisage payments using a mobile phone being a mainstream option by 2025. Meanwhile, 51% expect to be able to pay for goods and services by scanning their thumbprints by the year 2025 and 42% of Britons think they will soon be able to do away with carrying a wallet or purse. Most, however, expect traditional payment methods to still be in use by 2025. Threequarters of those surveyed believe debit cards will still be in existence, 73% think credit cards will be around and 68% anticipate still using cash.

The Payments Council also asked for opinion on some more future payment possibilities from independent futurologist Dr. Ian Pearson. According to Pearson, thumbprint payments could be problematic because of the ease by which criminals could get hold of a person's prints. However, the method could be made more secure by combining it with another technology, such as ID-verifying digital jewellery (like signet rings) or electronic information printed onto a person's fingernails.

The report from Skrill suggested that one in three UK consumers now carry less than £5 in cash – while one in 20 never carry any money. Research showed that a huge reliance on credit and debit cards and a dramatic increase in online shopping means we now use cash to pay for less than a third of our purchases. The study also found more than one in five think physical cash will completely disappear over the next 20 years and that almost one third of people think they will use less cash over the next ten years, while 42% think they will make more payments on their debit cards. Already, 30% of respondents use their debit or credit cards to pay for everything, regardless of how small an amount it is for.

I remember some years ago discussing the possibility of embedding a payment chip under the skin so you could have a debit chip in your left hand and a credit chip in your right. Whatever happened to that idea? If only Tomorrow’s World was still around.

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