With digital payments on the rise and innovations supporting its growth at every step, we are at the precipice of the next revolution in payments. As Alan Kay said, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it". Right now, I believe we are only limited by our imagination and, at the pace at which technology is evolving, we can soon expect some significant changes to the world as we know it today. Here are a few predictions that I believe will become a reality faster than we think:
1. Impulse buying will be the norm
Imagine you're at a fashion show, watching a model on the ramp. You admire the outfit or jewelry she is wearing and you want to buy it immediately out of an impulse. This will be possible in the future through the merger of technology with content and context, which will evolve so drastically that a mere gesture will enable this process.
2. Appliances will reorder
Your printer is running low on ink. Advancements in technology will ensure that there will come a time in the future when the printer will be able to detect that it is running out of ink and purchase the ink cartridges automatically. It will know how to connect itself to a payments system and where to purchase the ink. We will have innovations such as smart refrigerators, which will be able to detect how much milk you have and place an order automatically when you are low on stock.
3. Gestures will transact
Virtual and augmented reality is becoming increasingly apparent. Right now, we are talking about it in terms of gaming, but this will pervade every experience in our life. Transactions will soon take place through the mere nod of a head, blink of an eye or through the detection of emotions and your device will then take actions based on them. This may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but it is closer to reality that you may think.
Transactions will soon take place through the mere nod of a head, blink of an eye or through the detection of emotions...
4. Hands-free payment will rule
Technology has reached an interesting stage where we have hands-free devices with voice recognition or a single gadget that can control multiple functions in a household and carrying out transactions through them, rather than your wallet, is going to be the future of payments.
5. Digital money will permeate
We are already seeing this happen. The recent demonetization announcement by the government has triggered an increase in digital transactions. This trend will only grow stronger in the years to come.
6. The wallet will transform
Today, when one thinks of wallets, we think of a mobile wallet on our smartphones. There are several other products being developed through which payments can be made - for example, your keychain. We at PayPal already have such a product, which can load about 5-7 credit cards and even have a mobile wallet that you can link your bank account to. It's in your pocket all the time and you can also go to a store and use it, as it is NFC enabled.
7. Payment queues will be eliminated
The concept of actually having to wait in line to pay someone is an anachronism in these digital times. Queuing is a thing of the past. And, like many things from the past, lines will become a quaint concept that people will narrate to their grandchildren starting with the phrase "in the old days, we had to stand in a queue". Technology will obliterate this productivity killer.
8. Crowdfunding will continue to be a trend
We already have sophisticated platforms that can assess the value of an idea and make capital flow from investors big and small all over the world towards that idea and we can expect to see more of this in the future.
9. Biometrics will take over
The ability to identify people through their physical characteristics, such as retina scanning, will take more precedence in the future.
10. Quick service restaurants will be REALLY quick
Ordering at restaurants is a delayed process today because you have to stand in line and pay for what you have ordered. What if you could order ahead and the payment was seamlessly taken care of? The time has come to eliminate waiting from the dining experience. In the US, PayPal customers can order ahead at Starbucks and then just go pick up the order as they reach.
11. Connected cars will be commerce platforms
When you are seated in a fully-automated driverless car, you will have time to do something productive. Many people are sceptical of a driverless car working on Indian roads, but it will happen one day. The car will become a platform to do a lot of things at once—you will have internet connectivity and with navigation systems, the car knows where you're going. For e.g. if you're going to a mall, your car can probably connect to the internet to detect which stores are offering special deals.
12. Micro businesses will go digital
This is a matter of time. All small businesses and vendors will start using digital payments. It's going to help the people running these stores better manage their money. For them, getting secure and seamless access to their own money will be a game-changer. This trend will, of course, also be a boost for the cause of financial inclusion.