How you’ll spend money once cash is dead
Big tech changes are coming and your coins and bank notes are going to look seriously dated
Do you remember the 60s-80s cartoon The Jetsons? In that futuristic world they had a robot house assistant called Rosie, flying cars and – perhaps most futuristically of all – video conferencing. Sci-fi, right They also still used bank notes; in the opening credits George Jetson is seen handing his wife actual physical cash (she grabs his wallet instead and heads for the shopping centre. Look, it was futuristic, not progressive!).
But it’s becoming increasingly obvious that we may not be using hard cash for much longer and definitely not by the time we have flying cars and robot cleaners. While cash is still the way most transactions are made, it’s definitely decreasing.
Data published by UK Finance shows that cash payments decreased by 11% between 2015 and 2016. If this trend continues and fintech firms keep disrupting financial traditions then what will the future of spending look like? We’ve come over all Tomorrow’s World and taken a look at the tech that’s already in development and which might change the way you shop forever.
Pick up and leave
Entering a shop, grabbing what you need and legging it might sound like a fairly old-fashioned crime but it could soon be simply how you buy stuff. Amazon has already opened a check out-free grocery shop in the US where customers are monitored using cameras and sensors. Whatever they pick up is automatically billed to them, so they just walk out with it, with no hassle of queuing or waiting for staff.
In the old days a shopkeeper would know their customers faces. In the future, the shop’s algorithm might do the same. A fast food branch in China has installed a service that allows customers to pay for their food using their faces. Customers simply order from a touch screen and then choose ‘facial scan’ as their payment option. The tech firm behind it has nicknamed it ‘smile to pay’. This could be bad news for anyone with a hungry identical twin…
With an implant
It might be the stuff of dystopian fantasy but the technology is well-established and payments made using an under-the-skin implant are already being used. Swedish business hub Epicenter offers workers and members the chance to be implanted with a microchip the size of a grain of rice. This implant – injected in between people’s thumb and index finger – lets them open doors, use equipment and even buy items in the canteen.
Our fridge might do it for us
Again, this technology already exists; it’s just not mainstream… yet. One of the most high-tech fridges in the world – LG’s Instaview fridge – comes with built-in Amazon Alexa. It also has cameras so you can check what’s in, even when you’re out of the home, and ask the fridge to order more. You can even scan barcodes when you load the fridge so that it keeps track of best-before dates for you. Perhaps the future of spending money is actually that we’ll hardly ever do so, because our appliances will do it all for us. Take that, Jetsons.
Okay, so easyMoney is certainly no self-filling fridge but it does offer a new way to invest in peer-to-peer lending without HMRC touching a penny. Its Innovative Finance ISA is tax-free and allows you to invest up to £20,000 a year by lending to businesses. The annualised target return is 3.67-8% and all lending is secured by UK property, giving you extra peace of mind.
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