The Death of the Wallet

In recent years the use of cash has declined within the UK economy, with the levels of card payments on the rise accounting for 32% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 2014.

This growth is expected to continue with the introduction of far simpler ways of paying, with the likes of Apple Pay, Barclays bPay, and even the more advanced technologies such as Mastercard’s Identity Check, and the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) which have been tested within the market. Even the chief executive of Apple, Tim Cook made the bold statement ‘Your kids will not know what money is’ when asked by university students what his thoughts on the current boom of tap to pay technology. This article will look at the features of each technology mentioned here.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay was first introduced in October 2014, with its primary purpose set to abolish the wallet. It allows users from iPhone generation 6 and above to use the service, currently available in the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Singapore, and China. Users with an iPhone generation 5, 5c, and 5s may also use this service but only in conjunction with an Apple Watch which supports the Near Field Communication (NFC) service. In 2015 an astonishing 2,500 banks supported Apple Pay and was accepted at over 700,000 locations; figures that continue to grow. Apple have implemented many security features to entice a new market, in particular Touch ID, whereby only the persons whose fingerprints are linked to the card can activate it. Apple pay also offers a feature that the current widely used payment cards do not offer, a unique number linked to each transaction, which cannot be repeated by fraudsters; severely hindering the ability to profit from security breaches. Not only are they making our over-the-counter experience easier but Apple are teaming up with Payment Alliance International to introduce a new way of taking cash out of an ATM using the touch ID sensor. This will verify the transaction and then send a digital receipt to your phone, sounds so much easier right? It could be rolling out to 70,000 locations soon. Overall Apple are offering customers a convenient and secure way of paying, and continue to expand more and more everyday.   


Since the contactless revolution began Barclays Bank Plc have wanted to take things one step further and with that they released the bPay family including the loop, the wristband, the fob and the sticker all of which allow the user to pay for items under £30 where the contactless symbol appears. bPay is a simple design suited to both the tech savvy and those who may find themselves to be technologically challenged, with no need to power up for it to work. It is simply a quick and convenient way to pay, not only available to Barclay Bank Plc customers, but to most Visa/Mastercard credit/debit cards with a UK billing address.

Now on to the possible future of payments….

MasterCard Identity Check

Mastercard stated at the beginning of 2016 that they intended to roll out a new system of online payments this year. MasterCard Identity Check is quite literally what it says on the tin, it uses the customer’s face as a password, it also includes a ‘life’ test by requiring the customer to blink as a security measure. This method at the moment is purely a way of verifying the cardholder is the one making a transaction rather than making the payment itself, it also integrates the use of fingerprint as another option of identity checks. MasterCard Identity Check will be available to both some Apple and Android users. MasterCard have received exceptional feedback with 92% of testers preferring this system over passwords and so have begun experimenting with slightly more advanced technologies such as Nymi Bands whereby the authentication is taken from the wearer’s heartbeat, they successfully completed their first Nymi band transaction in July 2015.

Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID)

RFID are currently only in the early stages of testing. It is a topic that many find controversial and it can be asked, are we taking it too far?

So what is RFID? It is a very small chip, the size of a grain of rice, that can be implanted into the hand that carries and transfers data, similar to that of a magstripe found on payment cards. It is hoped that it will eventually be used in place of cash and card payment methods, and even in place of keys. One of the largest known implementations of RFID chips is in Sweden, an office block known as Epicenter which is home to multiple companies, has offered the chips to employees for the purpose of opening doors and the use of certain facilities within the office, they are also working on the possibility of payment within the employee cafeteria. Although this is without a doubt the most convenient way of paying in our day to day lives, it comes with a lot of extras that may put many individuals off, such as the GPS tracker. Tracking is already disputed in regards to CCTV, mobile GPS and many other types of public surveillance with some companies such as WhatsApp offering end to end encryption for the public’s benefit. So whether or not this is something that can be implemented into our daily lives is yet to be seen.