4 Technologies That Will Improve Contactless Pay in the Near Future

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The concept of contactless pay has evolved and expanded rapidly. What started with a new method of countertop transactions progressed to flexible retail points of sale, self-serve restaurants, and even full contactless hotels. And even these are just a few of the examples of contactless pay that have become prevalent in modern society.

With more options like these emerging, meanwhile, we’ve seen contactless pay adoption skyrocketing. In 2018, global contactless pay users were estimated to number about 440 million, with a projection that the number would reach close to 800 million by 2020. And last year in the U.S., which figures to be among the leaders in contactless pay adoption, a poll concerning contactless pay found that more than half of all Americans have become users. We may not reach full worldwide adoption for a number of years yet. But it’s clear that the transition is well underway.

That said, it’s also likely that the contactless pay society we’re beginning to build doesn’t quite look now the way it will eventually. There are still technological improvements to come, and they may actually transform and advance contactless payment systems considerably.

The following are some of the specific technologies we anticipate having a near-future impact on contactless pay.

5G – 5G networks are slowly but surely expanding in the U.S., and it won’t be too much longer before we begin to realize the full range of benefits they provide. Among those benefits will be faster and more seamless wireless transfers of data, which will only serve to speed up contactless transactions. This won’t be a glaring shift in all cases, but generally speaking, the faster and smoother contactless transactions occur, the more people will embrace the change.

Advanced PCBs – PCBs are the circuit boards that exist in virtually all of our electronic devices today. As these crucial devices continue to evolve and advance though, high-speed PCB design is giving rise to new capabilities. There are greater signal transmissions, faster connections, and so on — not to mention PCBs are becoming ever smaller and more discreet. While it’s difficult to project exact changes that this will bring to contactless pay systems, we envision tiny, connected devices taking the place of some point-of-sale machines and enabling people to make payments with their devices alone, wherever they may be in stores, restaurants, hotels, and so on.

Retinal Scans – We’re beginning to see retinal scans used as identifiers in some cases, and particularly in airport security lines. Don’t be too surprised though if the same technology ultimately has a role to play in contactless payment systems. It will likely be common in the near future to pay for goods or services merely by looking at specific windows or lenses on devices as a means of unlocking funds through identification.

AR Glasses – Finally, we should also be on the lookout for AR glasses’ role in all of this. Talk of AR glasses has been steady for a few years now, and the recent announcement of forthcoming smart glasses by Facebook has ignited discussion once more. It’s expected that AR glasses will eventually alter our day-to-day lives quite a bit. And one of the biggest changes is likely to involve payment methods. It’s quite possible that our glasses will take the place of phones and smartwatches — even to the point that blinking in certain patterns will confirm transactions.

There may be more unpredictable changes to come in contactless pay systems as well. Right now though, these are the technologies we’re keeping an eye on as we consider how this concept and practice will evolve.