One of the biggest developments in the current marketplace is the introduction of “mobile payments” to the scene. It’s a relatively new mechanism of payment since it’s so reliant on modern technology in order to work. Mobile payments are based on the concept that a customer stores the majority of their financial information on a device on their person. At the moment, that device is usually a smartphone which has, in the last 10 years, become as common to most people as a wallet or house keys.
But technology marches at an incredibly rapid pace. Just ten years ago, the “dumb phone,” or regular cellular phone was all the rage, and that was the device that everyone carried in their pocket. By the year 2020, the USA may be seeing the first commercially available self-driving cars finally hitting the streets in a limited capacity. We’ve seen just how quickly new technology can arrive and completely subvert the older technology—who uses public telephone booths anymore?—so to think that the smartphones people use now will still be with us in 20 years may be naïve.
While the concept of a portable computing device with access to the Internet is probably going to stay with us for many years to come, the form factor it comes in, the smartphone, is unlikely to last. Technology continues to get more powerful, yet shrink at the same time. We may see a point where the size of a phone is no longer an issue because it doesn’t require a physical screen. If the device you use can project images directly onto your eye, or even be worn as glasses, or simply use a miniature projector—holographic or otherwise—to create an image, then it can be as big as your house keys in your pocket. What then?
This is one of the challenges that payment processing companies are excited to address. The convenience of mobile payments isn’t going anywhere. But the way those payments are made? That’s always changing.