The end
of cash

Paying by heartbeat

Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? That’s smart—you should always have a way of paying at hand. Did you know that in just a few years, going through a checkout line will be a thing of the past? Instead, you’ll pay with a heartbeat on your way out of the store. We’re not talking about warm fuzzy feelings for your local mall. It’s about your pulse becoming the ultimate biometric ID. Get ready to put some heart into your shopping!

Are credit cards outdated? Checks and cash not your style? Tap-and-go payment feeling passé already? How about a bracelet that measures your heart rate and validates all your purchases? Now that’s more like it. MasterCard has already tested this technology, developed by the young masterminds at the Canadian startup Bionym.

Put a little cash to heart

Why the heartbeat? First, each heartbeat is unique and forms a signature, much like fingerprints. Second, this identity marker is ultra secure. While it might be possible to imitate your fingerprints, it isn’t quite so easy to steal your heart! Third, the cardiac profile stays constant regardless of your age or emotions (your payment will be accepted even if the sales attendant gets your heart racing)!

As it stands, you still need to wear this technology on your wrist, but it’s been made easy by Bionym and its Nymi Band. Their silicone bracelet looks more like sleek sportswear than jewelry from Fifth Avenue. But what about tomorrow? Imagine scanners that can perform an instant EKG as you walk out of a store. No more checkouts; no more lines; no more bracelets. Whether you are getting on the subway, visiting the doctor’s office or boarding a plane, your identity and payments are just a heartbeat away.

Technology that’s close to the heart

Biometric features such as our eyes, voice, fingerprints, heartbeats, even our blood vessels, are starting to replace the need for passwords and other forms of ID that can easily be lost or stolen. At the same time, they save us the trouble of manually entering passwords and logins on keyboards. Many of the latest smartphones already feature online payment services that only require the simple touch of your screen to make a purchase.

In the future, our number one technology interface will be the human body! We will open doors by placing our eye up to a scanning device, Our voice will confirm our identity at the pharmacy. Our passports, insurance cards and driver’s licenses will be tossed in the recycling bin as our relationship with the world becomes easier, more direct and more fluid.

The end of cash… and the end of currencies?

Digital payment methods have steadily reduced the time required for transactions. We barely need cash to buy anything nowadays and soon we won’t need cards either. Everything is automatic and instantaneous. Biometric recognition is the next logical step in the history of trade. Eliminating currencies will, in a sense, remove the barrier in the payment process, a dividing line that is so thin it has almost disappeared. We’re just a heartbeat (and some hidden technology) away from making our dreams come true.

How will currency itself change in response? Will blockchains emerge as the only credible form of legal tender? Will we forgo a currency system entirely, and instead get paid using some sort of worldwide daily calculation according to the job market and our line of work? Hard to say. But whatever happens, the future certainly looks… upbeat!

To learn more about trends in non-cash payments and more, read our World Payments report

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