Gestures and spoken words could be among the payment methods of the future

Voice, gestures and implants – the payments of the future?

The financial services sector is always looking for the next big thing in payments to improve convenience and get consumers excited about the latest innovations. But while options such as mobile tap-and-go payments have become mainstream in many places, and even wearable options like the Apple Watch are emerging, what do consumers think the future of everyday payments will look like?

That was the question asked by Nationwide, which surveyed people in the UK to find out their thoughts about what the payments landscape will look like 20 years from now. It revealed many believe biometrics will be the future of payments, with nearly six out of ten respondents (58 percent) saying they will be able to pay for goods in-store with nothing more than a thumbprint.

Almost a quarter of people (23 percent) even think we’ll have moved on to microchips implanted directly into people’s hands as a method of payment in 2037 – but they also aren’t giving up on familiar solutions from today.

Some 56 percent of Brits said debit cards would still be in use in 20 years’ time, with a similar number (55 percent) saying phones and watches will remain part of the payments mix. Cash isn’t going away either, with 43 percent seeing a future for this form of payment.

Futurologist Dr Ian Pearson said that current solutions such as contactless still represent a compromise, as they require users to interact directly with a reader. Future payment methods will seek to eliminate this restriction, he predicted.

“Soon, people will complete a transaction just with a simple gesture and a few words,” he said. “Gesturing towards someone and saying ‘Here is £13.46’ is quite enough to combine the voice and gesture recognition with the presence of your smartphone as electronic identification.”

Paul Horlock, director of payments at Nationwide, added it is always exciting to hear about new payments methods, whether these aim to increase convenience or just spark people’s curiosity. He stated: “Financial service organisations need to continue exploring how to best serve their customers by balancing authentication, speed and convenience when looking at new products.”

Written by Jack Dougal