Humans are naturally fascinated by the future. We’re always striving to see what the “next best thing” is going to be, long before it officially comes to fruition. With the amount of changes that have occurred through the history of payments, most of us are left wondering what could possibly be next. What do credit cards of the future look like? Are there any credit cards at all? We did a little research to find out.
Today’s Credit Cards
Today’s credit cards are almost like miniature plastic computers. They pass information from merchant to issuer in a matter of seconds. They are backed by magnetic strips that contain special digits, identifying each card as an individual. The numbers associated with the cards correspond to accounts of varying sizes, spending limits, and values. Every time you swipe your card, that account information goes where it needs to go.
Cards of the future are going to have to find new ways to pass the same data between merchants and credit card companies. There have already been transformations in the way that credit cards are processed, with the invention of swipeless credit cards and electronic payment processors like Square. Now it’s a matter of changing the cards themselves to reflect the speed and mobility of the current generation. What lies in store for that?
Wristwatch Credit Cards
MasterCard, Discover, and several other credit card providers already offer no-swipe credit cards, which eliminate the need to physically run a card between two metal strips. In conjunction with this, a company called Watch2Pay has developed a set of wristwatches that double as credit cards. These watches still function like clocks, but they have the same magnetic components built into them that swipeless cards use. As a result, you can simply press your watch against a PayPass processor, and the merchant will be able to gather information about your card. Some people say that this will create extra security concerns, but there are teams of innovators working around the clock to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Catch the pun “around the clock”? We just had to put that in there.
Phone Credit Cards
Google recently announced the invention of Google Wallet, which is a special payment system that turns your phone into a credit card. This is only going to be available for Android phones (for now), but it will allow you to avoid having to bring your card in with you to pay for something. Similar to the swipeless card idea, you will be able to run your phone against a special processor to transfer information to the merchant. As long as you have the right app downloaded, you can essentially leave your wallet at home.
Biometric Credit Cards
With biometrics, you will be able to use your body as a credit card. This will most likely happen through the use of your fingerprint, where a machine will scan the lines of your fingerprint and the veins behind them to figure out who you are. There is already a version of this technology in Citibank Singapore, where users can make full credit card payments with nothing but their hands. This will have to turn into a more widespread option before it truly becomes valuable to use, but signs show that such expansion is only a few years away.
If biometrics does take off, it will virtually eliminate the worry of identity theft. Credit cards will strictly be associated with individual fingerprints, which would make them impossible to steal. The technology may cost a lot to put in place, but the rewards it offers are overwhelming.
PayPal has been around for quite some time, but most people only associate it with eBay. In all actuality, PayPal is a virtual bank that can be used to store, transfer, and gather money just like a credit card or checking account would. Users who want to have a traditional credit card through PayPal can open a business account, where they will be issued a swipe card to use wherever MasterCard is accepted. The future holds a new option though.
At the moment, there are 18 nationwide retailers that allow PayPal payments directly in their stores. In these locations, you can log into your PayPal account at the checkout counter and use money from it to make your purchases. This combines the payment options online with the convenience of shopping in stores, allowing customers to get the most out of their accounts. This is just one more step toward the future.
You never know what will come of credit cards. There may come a time when we all have chips put into our wrists that get assigned to all of the cards we own. Until then, it’s interesting to see the transformations that are already taking place. Watch out for some of these within the next five to ten years, because there’s no denying that they will come to market. Consider this your sneak peak for the future.
This guest post comes from Chris at CompareCards.com. CompareCards.com is second to none in credit card comparisons and continues to educate consumers on the best balance transfer credit cards available today.