The tech that’s transforming the way we pay
The increasing digitisation of our finances is something many of us have been coming to terms with over the last decade.
Sometimes it goes well: It’s much easier to pay with a contactless card than messing around with change for the bus.
Other times, it can bring problems. Take a look at the recent GameStock controversy for an example.
But keeping up with it all can be exhausting. Which is why we’ve rounded up some of the most interesting (and stylish) new ways to pay with tech.
If you had a choice between rummaging through your pockets to find your cash or paying via contactless in shops using a ceramic ring (above, available in white or black) with an embedded NFC chip, what would you pick?
We’ll make it easy for you. Once you connect the ring with the companion app using a unique code and then link it to an existing bank account, it’ll work just like any contactless payment device.
It doesn’t require charging or pairing with your phone and instead draws power from the card reader via electromagnetic induction. It’s also hypoallergenic, fully waterproof and is available in 20 sizes to fit all kinds of fingers.
All you need to do is a knocking or fist-pump gesture over the reader when you’re ready to spend some money. You can cancel or suspend the ring’s payment functionality via the app at any time.
Everyone can relate to doing the ‘where’s my wallet?’ pat-down, which explains why paying for items using the cuff of your shirt screams convenience, especially for fashion-conscious forgetful types.
This collection of boldly designed smart shirts discreetly hides a contactless payment cap about the size of a SIM card in the sleeve so it’s always available — well, providing you keep your shirt on.
Using the MuchBetter app, the chip works as a prepaid Mastercard so you must add money to your account before your sleeve-based spending spree. This is geek chic at its finest.
From £135, dresscodeshirts.co.uk
Tovi Sorga Contactless Payment Bracelet
This range of gorgeous leather payment bracelets from Gloucestershire-based firm Tovi Sorga offer a simple and stylish alternative to paying for your Boots meal deal with your smartphone.
Available in a series of swanky prints for boys and girls, including an exclusive rainbow design to celebrate the nation’s carers and key workers while raising much-needed funds for the NHS, these cashless companions rely on Pingit’s contactless chip, which connects to any UK Visa or Mastercard debit or credit card, and are monitored via the Pingit app.
You can then top up the pre-paid account or opt for the auto top-up option to add money when the balance falls below a set amount.
From £75, tovisorga.com
This rather nifty wearable device features built-in biometric technology so you can make swift, wrist-based payments that are approved using fingerprint authentication.
The smart module fits on to a range of interchangeable straps, as well as more stylish accessories like bracelets, bangles and key fobs, so it’s got the fashion-conscious in its sights too.
The company doesn’t just want to stop at payments, either, with ticketing on public transport, loyalty cards, smart locks and a handful of other day-to-day contactless transactions all seen as potential use cases for its NFC platform.
Underneath the hood, biosensing tech keeps track of your vital signs — a feature the company hopes to make medical grade by the end of 2021, alongside the cardiac arrhythmias functionality.
£tba (join the waiting list), flywalletpay.com/en/buy
Press charges: More ways to spend
As you’d expect, Apple’s seamless payment ecosystem works with iPhones and Apple Watches.
Verification happens via the Touch ID sensor or Face ID on your iPhone, while Apple Watch users activate payments with a passcode.
Users can also easily send cash to each other via an iMessage or by asking Siri.
Venmo works via a mobile app and is a brilliant option for sending and receiving money from other Venmo users. You can send money via a phone number or email as the app can access your Facebook or phone contacts, and if the person receiving your money isn’t currently on Venmo, they’re prompted to create an account.
The fitness tracer fanatic has introduced a smart payment system for its line of fitness trackers and smartwatches that have a built-in NFC chip.
A few key players, such as Barclays and Lloyds, are noticeably missing from the payment party but paying on compatible trackers and watches is a much welcomed addition for fitness folk.
Yup, you guessed it, this is how Android users make contactless payments using rectangular slabs or smartwatches loaded with the internet giant’s operating systems.
It claims to be more secure than using a traditional credit card as the card number is not directly sent and is protected via multilayered security encryption.
WinWatch MuchBetter payment watch
Don’t be fooled by the classic good looks and mechanical stylings of this luxury Swiss timepiece.
Once it pairs to the MuchBetter app via a unique activation code, it goes from stylish time teller to contactless payment card. This is all possible thanks to a payment chip and antenna embedded within the glass watch face, or STISS (Swiss Technology Inside Smart Sapphire) crystal, to give it its official name.
Aside from the tiny contactless payment symbol on the bezel indicating the Mastercard-powered tech living inside, it looks like a pretty normal analogue watch and is an excellent option if you like the idea of wrist-based shopping minus the daily charges.
The best bit is that third-party watch makers could take this tech and create their own payment watches or retrofit existing models.
Samsung Pay Card
So much more than your standard tap-and-go mobile payment system, Samsung’s Pay Card allows you to link your existing bank and credit cards on to one digital payment platform to easily flit between payment options and essentially turn your phone into your wallet.
The really interesting bit is that it lets shoppers go back in time on their purchases. It allows you to decide which of those accounts you wish to use for a purchase for more flexibility.
So if you make a purchase with your bank account’s debit card, for example, but later realise you should have popped it on your credit card, you have up to 90 days to switch the purchase.
It’s available in digital form on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone or as a traditional plastic Mastercard for an additional £4.99.
You’ve got to hand it to them
Amazon has announced a wildly innovative contactless payment system that doesn’t need your card or a phone — and, if we’re being honest, wouldn’t sound out of place in the latest sci-fi flick.
It’s called Amazon One, it’s biometric-based and it works by letting you pay with your palm. This Jedi-like tech will roll out in a couple of its checkout-free Amazon Go stores in the US, which track what the shopper puts in their basket.
Once registered — which requires you to insert a credit card and hover your palm over the reader to match it to your unique print — you simply need to flash your palm to scan in and start your cashier-less shopping trip. In the future, we could see this tech inside stadiums, office buildings and other shops.
This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on purchases made through one of these links but this never influences our experts’ opinions. Products are tested and reviewed independently of commercial initiatives.
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