Credit cards have become convenience replacements for checks, cash, and other bulky payment methods. No matter how simplistic they may be though, they are still too bulky for the future. Indeed, we are coming to a time when the physical credit card will no longer be necessary. Technology has other plans in mind.
Here is a look at some of the many ways credit cards are vanishing for good.
Mobile Credit Cards
Smart phone apps are getting more complex every day, to the point that you can do just about anything you want with your phone. That includes making a credit card purchase, thanks to programs like Google (GOOG) Wallet and Square Wallet. With both of these offers, you can load your credit card information into a secure account online and then pay for items using nothing but your phone. A special reader communicates with the back of the phone to extract your card information, so all you have to do is swipe.
Mobile credit cards are not fully accessible yet because businesses do have to buy special readers to work with them. OfficeMax (OMX), Foot Locker (FL), Old Navy (GPS), and Toys 'R Us have begun to accept Google Wallet; Walgreens (WAG), Walmart (WMT), and Best Buy (BBY) have started to accept Square Wallet. That just represents a small number of the stores accepting mobile credit cards, but we have a long way to go before this can be considered an international program.
We all knew that shopping online was going to be a big deal. eBay (EBAY), Amazon.com (AMZN), and other sites like those provide lower prices, better selections, and more trustworthy reviews than brick and mortar stores, making it unnecessary for a lot of people to go shopping anymore. What does that do for credit cards? It makes them slightly unnecessary.
Yes, you can still make credit card purchases online, but a lot of shoppers use their bank accounts or PayPal to take care of payments online. Visa (V) recently launched the V.me program, which allows cardholders to store their card information in a secure online account – preventing stores from ever seeing important financial details. It is programs like these that will be the downfall of physical credit cards.
Expanding on that idea, a lot of stores are beginning to accept PayPal as a form of payment at the register. The Home Depot (HD), Jamba Juice (JMBA), and even Dollar General (DG) now have a way for users to check out with PayPal in the store. Once again, this takes away the need for an actual card and gives people a more streamlined way to shop.
Biometric Credit Cards
Scientists around the world have been diligently working on biometric credit cards, which allow users to register their fingerprints in association with cards they want to use. Once the customers get to the checkout counter, all they have to do is put their fingers on a scanner to make a payment. The machine picks up on both the lines of the fingerprints and the veins in the fingers to determine a match, doubling up on the protection. This option is considered the true wave of the future because it virtually eliminates the possibility of identity theft. The issue will come in getting the pricey fingerprint readers in stores across the globe.
For now, you will probably need to hold onto that stack of cards you have in your wallet. Just keep in mind that advances are leading towards their disappearance. It may not be this year or the next, but expect to see a strong transformation within the decade. Pretty soon, you'll be able to use nothing but your mind to pay for your groceries at the supermarket.
[Image via Flickr]
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