November 30th, 2011 by Lloyd Gofton
It’s about that time of the year when we start seeing predictions for the year ahead. Top of most predictions lists for the last 5-6 years, if not longer, has been “the year of mobile” and of course that hasn’t quite come to fruition. However, next year…
Joking aside, we are certainly getting closer to the much heralded explosion of mobile, and it’s perhaps supporting services such as â€˜digital money‘ that will make it more of a reality than the development of handsets alone.
As you might have seen, PayPal recently predicted that we won’t need cash in its traditional form by 2016, as our mobile will handle the payments for us. In fact, Carl Scheible, managing director of PayPal UK commented in the ‘Money: The digital Tipping Point‘ report that: “Children born today will become the UK’s first ‘cashless generation. It will be completely natural for them to pay by mobile.”
Now of course this is nothing new, mobile payments have been talked about almost as long as the â€˜year of the mobile‘ but if anything this timeframe seems a little excessive, after all we can already pay for our food at Pizza Express using an iPhone app, and there are many more examples coming. We’re a long way from abandoning our wallets, but the change can be implemented relatively quickly from here.
Most of us can now swipe our cards over a terminal in a shop to pay for anything up to Â£15, and from January this will include Oyster card readers, which will accept direct payment. Therefore, bringing contactless card technology and mobile technology together is hardly a major leap, especially as the next generation of mobile phones are being built with near-field communication (NFC) chips, which will also enable contactless payment and offer the advantage of digital loyalty cards, promotional offers and receipts held on phones.
PayPal offers further evidence of the move to leave our wallets at home with stats that show 45m people in the UK use a mobile phone and over a third of mobile users surveyed have used the mobile internet to buy something from a retailer’s website.
The big issue beyond the technology is of course the security, but with advances in device-based, or embedded security, i.e. security built into the device and not sat on top in the form of after sales software, the future is bright. I would estimate that we will be ditching our wallets before 2016, and who knows the year of mobile may have even arrived by then.