Some industry experts predict that credit cards will essentially disappear within the next couple of decades. While that’s true in a sense, you can also visualize this as a revolution in credit card technology. You can change credit cards without eliminating them. In the upcoming years, expect to see a revolution that makes credit cards look and behave differently from the ones you have in your wallet today.
When You Change Credit Cards, It’s About the Technology, Not the Plastic
Plenty of stores already let patrons pay for their purchases by using their phones. It’s not the norm yet, but it’s a change that will likely become increasingly popular. Instead of carrying a lot of cards in your wallet, you will have them stored in your phone.
Does this mean that credit cards will no longer exist? Well, it could mean that, eventually, plastic cards become pointless. Even right now, though, the plastic card doesn’t serve much of a point. It’s just there to support the magnetic strip or EMV chip that stores information.
You could just as easily change credit cards by putting those strips and chips in a phone, or a watch, or a necklace. Realistically, you could put them on anything. Currently, phones seem like the most useful choice, because people are already used to storing lots of information on them.
Before a major credit card paradigm shift happens in the United States, though, more retailers will have to embrace EMV chip technology. Most retailers currently have readers that only accept magnetic strip cards. If you travel outside of the U.S., then you know EMV is standard everywhere else. It’s just a matter of time before consumers in the States start demanding more EMV readers.
Biometrics Change Credit Cards
There are different types of biometric credit programs. Some let retailers charge a person’s account strictly on a personal basis. The cashier knows the customer, so she just charges the purchase to the customer’s usual account. This harkens back to the old general store, where customers could just yell “charge it to my account” as they ran out the door. That might work in some stores, but others will demand higher security.
That’s not a problem when you consider how easy it is to swap credit card-reading technology with biometric-reading technology. A credit card reader accesses your account by identifying numbers in a magnetic strip. There’s no reason a reader couldn’t do the same, just by identifying the whorls of your fingerprint.
It’s easy to imagine a frightening futuristic world where people pay for everything with retinal scans. Really, though, what’s so scary about that? It’s a lot harder to steal someone’s retina or fingertip on the subway than it is to swipe someone’s credit card out of a purse. When you change credit cards to biometric standards, you could actually be a lot safer than the technology that we use today.
Credit cards will certainly evolve over time. They might even evolve out of existence. But the concept behind credit card accounts will be with us for a very long time.