Report from Barcelona: Cars, Clothes, and “Cards” Everywhere

We report fairly regularly on the changing nature of payments — when we’re not talking up security and data breaches, that is. And sometimes, they can be the same subject — like the switch over to EMV cards (and the need to get “POS-ready” for them!)

But sometimes, despite writing about mobile payments, “NFC” payments (i.e., “Near Field Communication”) where you wave your card near the POS device to have it register, and other new developments, we’re still surprised at just how fast the “apparatus” of electronic payments keeps changing, past the mag-stripe credit card era we seem to be at the tail end of, now.

But what eras will follow?

Well, the just-concluded Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is yielding many interesting clues about what might be next. The Verge reports that Visa and MasterCard revealed new initiatives to “put payment technologies in connected devices, such as clothing, wearables, cars, and appliances.”

Visa’s program is called Visa Ready, and, the article explains, “lets them integrate secure, tokenized payment features into their products. Visa says that it will initially be used in wearables and cars, and it has signed up companies such as Chronos, Coin, and Pebble to make use of the new platform.”

We’re still not sure how that will work for “wearables,” a.k.a. “clothes” — and what does it mean for security if you leave a networked hat, glove, or overshirt somewhere!?  As for the automotive side, CNBC says that “Visa teamed up with Honda to create (an) app which can be accessed via the car’s dashboard. It will tell a driver when their gas is low and navigate them to the nearest place to fill up. Once parked next to the pump, the app can calculate the cost of filling up and a person can pay for the gas and even convenience store items via their dashboard.”

Of course someone still needs to pump the gas. And there’s no word how this feature will evolve once cars themselves evolve to stop running on gas altogether.

Other futuristic initiatives that we’ve reported on previously also seemed ready to launch out of Barcelona. The Financial Times says that MasterCard announced they’ll “bring facial recognition payment services dubbed ‘selfie pay’ to the UK as part of a range of new services designed to improve identity verification… British users will be able to scan fingerprints or snap selfies to validate their identities, in a system designed to let them complete an online purchase without the need for pin codes, passwords or confirmation codes.”

“The system,” the FT continues, “will become available in 14 other countries this summer. The picture is mapped against a stored image on file, allowing use of mobile payments.”

But that’s not all: MasterCard is also investing in companies that are “trialling a system that measures the user’s heartbeat through a connected bracelet to authenticate credit card transactions.”

This may give the phrase “life’s blood of the economy” an entirely unintended meaning. And one also wonders what futurists like Philip K. Dick might have thought of a world where you “pay by face,” or “pay by heart.”

In any case, the future is getting here faster than it ever has before.  And while it’s true we don’t offer blood testing (yet) or car repairs here at AVPS , we can provide just about everything else you might need to help your own customers “pay safe,” whether online or in person.

And we hope, if it’s in person, that they don’t forget their face.

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