This week, the tech world is focusing on all things coming out of Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona. And while much has been said about Mark Zuckerberg’s entrance at a Samsung event, we’ve been doing our best to focus on some of the less well-reported stories that we think will have long-term implications for many of us. For instance, we’re very excited about the various announcements being made about mobile payments, and not just those tied to your smartphone, but payments that will be associated with wearables, our cars and even via activities like the Selfie.
If it is true, as they say, that money makes the world go round, then the Internet of Things will be there to help facilitate the transactions. The research firm Tractica predicts that the volume of wearable payment transactions will grow to $501 billion by 2020.
During MWC, both MasterCard and Visa had announcements about mobile payments, which included partners like Coin, Fit Pay, Chronos, Pebble, Samsung – and even Honda.
Specifically, MasterCard is introducing biometric security features across its products and will allow customers to access their accounts with a photo of their face when using its mobile app, or using a fingerprint scan. This option will be available in 15 countries – including the UK – as of this summer, and when it rolls out, you could complete a purchase without the need to enter confirmation codes, passwords, or PIN numbers.
And, as Engadget reported, as a part of its “Visa Ready” program, Visa announced plans to push payments into numerous fields, including “wearables, automobiles, appliances, public transportation services, clothing and almost any other connected device — basically, anything that can or will soon connect to the internet.” This included a demo created with Honda to show off an in-car app (yes, you read that correctly) to help automate payments, such as for things like parking on city streets or to find nearby gas stations sorted by price per gallon. More details about the Visa Ready program are available online.
We were also interested to see that Coin announced a developer program to integrate NFC-enabled payments into wearables. The program is tied to MasterCard’s Digital Enablement Service to “securely digitize MasterCard payment credentials and further reduce the barrier to entry for device manufacturers.” There will be payment options tied to Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. Developers can now apply to join that program from Coin.
The Catchy POV:
Are we just seeing a flash in the pan tied to all of the hot buzz phrases like IoT and wearables, or are we entering a period that we’ll call the ubiquity of payments? We’re leaning toward the latter. Sure, there will be holdouts who still cling to their printed currency – and their forsaken pennies – but for many of us, the convenience of always-available payment options will prove to be irresistible. As long as you don’t expect anyone to be able to count out the correct change when you buy that cup of coffee at the corner shop.