What will credit cards be like in the future?

What will credit cards be like in the future?
A stack of credit cards are shown in this undated photo. REUTERS/Jill Kitchener

Once upon a time, man discovered fire. Years later, he invented the wheel. Both revolutionised the way the world functioned.

So, it only made sense that the next big invention was soon to come; in the form of a thin rectangular piece of plastic that changed the way the financial industry functioned.

Today, we know this piece of plastic by its simultaneously joyous and fear-inducing (for some) name – the credit card. If you look at the credit card in your pocket and compare it to the picture of one that was first issued in 1950, you will be hard pressed to find many differences.

That is because, despite technology moving at a rapid pace, card issuers stuck to what was tried and tested.

Which is probably why it took decades for bankers and engineers to agree that the magnetic stripe would be a standard that all cards would adopt. And then another 25 years or more for banks to start issuing cards with EMV chips. And another few years for these microchip-embedded cards to become the standard (in most countries, barring the United States, where this technology never really took off).

In such an environment where card technology takes decades to change but every other type of technology changes as we speak, what will a credit card be like in years to come?

Let’s find out!

The Digital card

If you are part of “The Unbanked Generation” or the generation that lives entirely on their phones, then you probably already use contact less modes of payment such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. That’s just the beginning.

If you use WhatsApp, you can send and receive money over text. You can do this with PayPal’s Venmo as well. All you need to have is a smartphone and your card details stored on your phone. These are just mobile applications.

Today, you can use your phone to make credit card transactions as well! Phones like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus are technologically enabled to mimic the EMV chip on your card.

So, all you need to do is wave your phone at a Visa or Mastercard contact less terminal and voila! If this is what it is like today, what does the future hold?

Well, for one, your phone won’t be the only device through which you can make payments. You may soon be able to make a money transfer via your watch (you can already read text messages and answer a call on your watch, so this is the next logical step). From there, possibilities are endless.

Companies are already working on wearable gadgets and jewelry that will be enabled to store credit card details to make transactions seamless. In fact, the day isn’t far when you will be able to use your car to make a card payment! All you will need to do is link your card details to your smart car and not have to bother about having to stop and pay while at a drive-through. Sounds like a scene from a futuristic Hollywood movie, doesn’t it?

Fingerprint payments

You know that sinking feeling you get when you realise you may have misplaced your credit card in a store and you rush to get it or you make a million calls to cancel your card? Well, what if you never have to feel that sense of dread ever again?

In the future, this feeling will obviously be a thing of the past (wink!). An urban legend that your grand kids may laugh about because making payments using biometric details such as your fingerprint would be the norm.

Thanks to biometric technology and data, a fingerprint is all you will need to pay for a cup of coffee. In fact, as people and banks get used to technology, you could pay just by selecting your name and biometric data will be used to verify your identity, completely eliminating the need for any payment device.

Your card will know where you are

Have you ever been in a situation where you are lazing around at home, binge-watching your favourite show when you get a text saying that someone has swiped your credit card?

You then get into a frenzy trying to figure out how this could have possibly happened? Well, the future is pretty much frenzy-free (at least with respect to this particular scenario). With the latest technology, if you are at home and someone a few kilometres away is trying to use your card, the transaction will not go through.

This is because your card issuer will have access to your phone’s location (no, this isn’t 1984, so there will be rules about how this permission can be used when it is implemented) and the location of where the transaction is taking place.

If the locations don’t match, then the transaction is null and void! If you think that this technology will be implemented much later, think again because it is already in use with Tech CU credit cards.

The one card to rule them all

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that in today’s day and age, each perso

n owns multiple credit cards but not multiple wallets.

Which is why companies have started building digital wallets. These wallets contain all your credit and debit card details. You can also key in details of gift cards!

So, you don’t have to worry if you are carrying the right card since you can choose to make a payment with absolutely any card!

If you own a digital wallet such as Spendwallet, it will automatically lock the wallet and destroy all stored data if you end up losing it!

A keypad on your card

Scared that the person standing behind you is memorising your PIN when you key it in public? As a business owner, do you feel that owning multiple little machines that accept card payments is a problem that you would like to eliminate?

Well, all of this is going to be a thing of the past. If financial and technology experts have their way, each credit card will come equipped with a numeric keypad.

Once you enter your password, details such as the security number and expiry date of your card appear. All you need to do next is transfer money.

Since this card is already being issued by some European banks, the day when you get a credit card with a numeric keypad of its own isn’t far away.

So, just like man discovered fire and changed the course of the world, new technological advancements constantly change the way in which we interact with the world.

Now, even if a credit card 100 years from now looks exactly like the card you carry in your pocket, rest assured it will work and function in ways you never imagined.

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