Cash or charge? Why watches, chip implants may be retail's future
Published Saturday, August 23, 2014 10:01PM EDT
Is your bulging wallet weighing down your purse or back pocket? Don’t worry, one day you may not have any use for it.
A push is on to make traditional cash, credit and debit card forms of payment obsolete. Instead, companies are looking to develop wearable gadgets, mobile phones, and even implants that can quickly move you through the checkout line – or have you avoid it altogether.
Futurists say wearables – even shirt buttons – will one day become widely accepted forms of paying for purchases.
“I should be able to, literally by tapping my watch, purchase something and have it either delivered to my house, or walk out the door with it,” says Peter Rivera, creative director at Infusion, an international tech solutions company.
It could be as simple as wearing the right type of watch while doing some shopping. In that case, a shopper could simply walk out of the store, while a scanner at the exit does all the transaction work.
Paying could also be as simple as a swipe of the finger, one day.
Biometric payment methods, such as retinal scans and facial recognition, are already being tested.
For more than a decade, an American company has been developing a micro-transponder chip that can be inserted by hypodermic needle under the skin of the upper arm.
Although it has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the injectable chip technology is controversial, mainly for health and privacy reasons.
Consumers may be skeptical, but University of Toronto marketing professor David Soberman says it’s natural that our purchasing methods would evolve in the digital age.
“There’s a lot of things that people do now that in the past, we were very reluctant to do,” Soberman said. “With all these things, you can conceivably get used to doing them.”
With a report by CTV’s Scott Laurie