How technology is transforming the way we pay

26th Apr 19 | Lifestyle

From fingerprints to voice recognition, the way we move our money around is transforming.

Customer using touch screen to make payment at a coffee

Technology has transformed the way many of us make everyday payments – and some recent announcements by banks have given a glimpse of what the future could hold.

Here’s a look at how payments innovations are changing our lives right now, and what may be just around the corner for the way we pay…

Four in 10 card transactions in the UK are now contactless
According to figures from trade association UK Finance, around 40% of card transactions in the UK are now contactless.

Contactless spending surged by nearly a third last year alone, as growing numbers of retailers and providers of other services such as public transport accept ‘tap and go’ payments – in situations where not so long ago, you may have been rummaging for coins in your wallet.

In 2018, customers across the UK spent a total of £69 billion using contactless cards – a 31.8% increase compared with 2017. They made a total of 7.4 billion transactions using contactless cards in 2018 – equating to 20 million a day. Some 82 million of the 99 million debit cards currently in circulation now have contactless functionality. In addition, 41 million of the 60 million credit cards in the UK are contactless.

You don’t always need to know someone’s bank details to send them some cash
Some services enable people to send each other money simply by using their mobile phone number. This means you can pay with a few taps into your phone, rather than needing to know bank numbers and sort codes.

Barclays’ money-sharing app Pingit, which links your mobile number to your bank account, launched in 2012 and now has 3.6 million users. A similar scheme called Paym is also available.

You can use your voice as your password
HSBC launched a scheme called VoiceID in 2016, which is now used by more than 1.6 million of its customers across the UK. The voice biometrics system recognises the unique characteristics of a customer’s voice when people access their telephone banking.

After someone gives their account details, they say the phrase, “My voice is my password”, before being given access to their account. This means there’s less emphasis on customers needing to remember their password. The service works by recognising people’s ‘voice prints’, which take account of aspects of someone’s speech, such as speed and pronunciation, as well as the physical characteristics which affect their voice, like the shape of the larynx, vocal tract and nasal passages.

The initiative is also helping to weed out fraudsters. While genuine customers have used the technology 15 million times since it launched in 2016, over 15,000 fraudulent calls have also been identified, protecting customers’ money.

female hand with jewelry holding phone with online shopping touch and pay
Banking technology is transforming fast (iStock/PA)

You may soon find you can pay with your fingerprint instead of your PIN
This is a development you may potentially see in the future. A new way of verifying card payments is being trialled by NatWest and its sister bank Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The bank has announced it is piloting a “cutting edge” biometric fingerprint bank card with 200 customers. Customers will use their fingerprint to verify payments over £30 – the current contactless card limit – without the need to enter a PIN at the till.

Bank cards used in the trial will store information, which means people can verify payments by placing their finger over a box on the card, which is then swiped at the till without a PIN being entered. The bank says the initiative is still in its early stages and it is seeing how the trial evolves.

Finally, there are also signs that new technology is changing the words we use to talk about money
Research from Pingit has found three in 10 people think new technology and the evolving way people pay for goods is changing the language they use to talk about money.

Some 30% of people surveyed believe changes to payments in the past 10 years, such as the growth of contactless and mobile payments, are having an impact on the words they use. For example, talking about ‘tapping’ to make card payments without entering a Pin or “pinging over” money.

Meanwhile, just over two-fifths (41%) of people believe there will be different words for money and payments in 20 years’ time, as the way we pay continues to evolve.

© Press Association 2019

MORE FROM XPOSÉ