Since the prediction about the Mayan calendar fizzled, let's take a look at some predictions we laid out in an article last year titled Credit card technology: 2012 and beyond. Our forecasts (pinched, as always, from expert specialists) for how credit card use might evolve hopefully proved to be a bit more on target.
Credit cards transforming before our eyes
And we -- or, rather, those experts -- didn't do too badly. All the technologies we explored remain on track to make it big:
- The four big payment networks have each published a road map for rolling out across the United States EMV, the chip-and-PIN and chip-and-signature technology.
- Offers from your credit card companies sent directly to your smartphone and based on your precise geographical location (a particular aisle in Walmart, say) edge ever closer.
- Mobile wallets and other ways to pay from your credit card account using your smartphone, tablet or similar device are already beginning to take off.
The extent to which those mobile payment opportunities are exploding became clear recently, when three innovations, each from a different company, were announced within three working days:
- On Dec. 3, US Airways said it had become the first airline in the world to accept payments for in-flight purchases using MasterCard's PayPass technology. This allows you to pay using credit cards, smartphones and tablets that have near-field communications (NFC) technology, and have been registered with this MasterCard service.
- The same day, USA Technologies and Isis unveiled plans to enable some 7,500 vending machines in and around Austin and Salt Lake City to accept payments using NFC-compliant cards and devices.
- On Dec. 5, NCR launched NCR Mobile Pay. This should allow diners in restaurants that adopt the technology not only to pay their bill using their smartphone or tablet, but also to browse the menu, re-order dishes, request a receipt via email, provide feedback and summon their server to their table -- all online.
Prepare to be wooed
By now, you're probably telling yourself how little all this matters to you, and that you don't see yourself as someone who would ever want or need mobile payment services. After all, you can already pay using your credit card on US Airways flights, and waving your hand to attract a server's attention seems to work pretty well. Come to think of it, if you're in the sort of restaurant where hand signals fail, how likely is it that staff are going to respond more quickly to being summoned from cyberspace?