About fifteen years ago, paying with your debit card with a mere tap and no pin number seemed a Star Wars-esque way to buy your loaf of bread and pint of milk. Fast-forward to 2017 and contactless has been almost universally adopted. From corner shops to high street favourites, everyone is on-board.
Moving onto pints of a different sort, however, there is a new way of paying when you don’t want to type in an onerous four digits or even both to remove your card from your wallet. In the latest in a series of developments in retail and leisure technology, it is now possible to pay with a mere fingerprint.
Proud Galleries, the pioneer behind biometric payment technology – called Fingopay – has created a bartop scanner which allows customers to introduce their index finger when they’re ready to settle up. The technology patterns the veins in the customer’s finger, which needs to be linked to their bank account in advance to make a payment possible.
Some may say that this is a step too far, yet technologies such as these are becoming more and more common in the retail industry. Visa has recently launched a new ‘in-product’ payment system, whereby you can use your sunglasses instead of your contactless card, removing all need for a debit card. American coffee brand Starbucks and popular salad bar Vital Ingredient have launched their own version of ‘click and collect’ meaning you can order your salad and flat white from your phone before collecting it in-store.
Yet as Estates Gazette reported last week, the UK (and more specifically, London) has a lot more it can learn from its US cousins. In the next 10 years, we can expect to see a rapid decline of cash-purchases, with digital payments reigning over high street clothing shops and salad bars alike. As we become more and more time-pressed with work and socialising, convenience will be King as people look for quick-fix solutions.
And what about that outfit for the weekend you want to buy after your healthy-living lunch? Well, technology has also made its way into changing rooms, transforming the way in which we try on clothes. In America, one brand has built a set of changing rooms that record the customers’ motion, provide adjustable lighting, touch screens and a sophisticated tracking system to remember what the customer does and doesn’t buy.
Although this is a far cry from the fingerprint and pint purchase above, it shows just what is possible to ensure that customers have an easy and efficient experience – as well as something stores can profit from. With many more technologies in motion, there will very shortly be no more excuses for forgetting your wallet. Who knows, soon contactless might even join the good old pin number in ancient history.