Proponents of the cash is king mantra beware: mobile payments are set to revolutionise virtually every aspect of our lives.

From landlines to newspapers, the use of smartphones has challenged a host of traditional mainstays. Last year, a Swiss news station replaced all of its old TV cameras with smartphones. Now smartphones and other wearable technology are out to replace notes and coins with apps that are ushering in an era of consumer convenience from the schoolyard to the cafe.
The latest generation of smartphones and wearables contain near-field communication (NFC) chips. These can transmit banking and payment data from phones in the same way that payWave devices operate. By pairing that technology with apps that link back to bank accounts and credit cards, we’ll be able to use our phone to pay for just about everything.
Here are five ways the revolution has already begun.

Getting smart at school

In 2013, eight schools in Victoria made it possible for parents to order and pay for their children’s canteen lunches – as well as other school-related expenses such as excursions – using their mobile phones. Digital payment technology beyond the smartphone has come to a host of Australian schools that use their students’ smart school ID cards as a form of cashless payment with students able to tap-and-go at the canteen, with funds linked to their fee accounts. 

Free coffee made easy

In other establishments, we can already buy a coffee with our phones. In the US, Starbucks’ proprietary payment app processes more than 8 million mobile transactions a week from 16 million users. Like a range of other apps such as Stocard, it’s putting an end to stamping loyalty cards by automatically registering loyalty points on the user’s device after each transaction.

Ring it in

There’s nothing more annoying than rifling through your bag or pockets looking for your contactless travel card. Soon you could be having a dream commute thanks to some seriously smart accessorising. Kerv is a wearable ring from the UK that can be used to pay at any of the nearly 40 million Mastercard and Visa contactless points around the world, including many travel options such as the London transport network. It’s only a matter of time before it arrives here.   

Splitting bills simply

Those awkward social situations where we fumble around to split a lunch bill could be over. And even for those of us who aren’t comfortable with linking our phones to our credit cards (which we can now do with tools such as Apple Pay), there are alternatives, especially for making peer-to-peer payments. Apps such as Venmo and Dwolla can transfer cash from your account, making it easy to repay a friend for your share of a meal or a taxi home from the movies.

Swipe a bargain

Picking up a bargain will be as simple as stepping into the shopping centre and swiping for the day’s best deals. A pilot app run by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia allows retailers to let customers know of offers or discounts as they reach the vicinity of the store. Customers will then be able to swipe left or right depending on whether they’ll accept or decline the offer.
Although it’s early days, there’s no doubt the proliferation of mobile payment options will have many advantages. We’ll spend far less time standing in checkout lines, we won’t have to queue for ATMs, and sales assistants will be better able to focus on what really matters – us. But perhaps best of all, we’ll never have to worry about getting the right change again.
This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
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