When you think about your payment options, you probably picture pulling cash out of your wallet or swiping your credit card. But could the days of the swipe be numbered?
That’s what Bill Maurer, Director of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion at UC Irvine, predicts. According to Maurer, the gestures that we use to pay are evolving as new technologies emerge.
Visa believes Visa payWave is leading the way, which offers a faster checkout and more secure way to pay. Customers pay by simply waving their cards in front of a secure reader, before walking off with their purchases. No more fumbling to figure out which way to turn the card or swiping in futile frustration again and again (to the chagrin of the people on line behind you).
Maurer contends that more alternate gestural technologies like payWave, mass transit tapping systems and gas station key fobs will begin to debut in the coming years—making swiping obsolete by 2020. “With biometrics and gesture recognition, it’s easy to imagine a proliferation of new ways to authenticate payment using new gestural systems,” he says.
The evolution of credit card payments
It wasn’t too long ago that credit card transactions involved placing the card under carbon paper to take an imprint using a “zip-zap” machine. This method is mostly extinct, although in the event of a computer system outage, it’s still a working backup.
Next came electronic card readers which mimic the old sweeping motion of card imprinters to read the data encoded in the card’s magnetic stripe. Many new mobile payments systems have helped to keep this swiping gesture intact.
But the times are changing once again, especially as protecting personal financial information becomes more urgent. Because Visa payWave cards can only be read within 1 to 2 inches of the secure reader and, because each transaction is accompanied by a unique security code, your card never has to leave your hand.
This greatly reduces the risk of someone stealing your card information or of you accidentally leaving your card behind. Your information remains secure in the computer chip that’s embedded in the card. If the swipe does indeed go the way of the payphone and the subway token, only time will tell which new payment technologies emerge. Whatever that may be, you can be sure that Visa will be there.