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Last updated: January 2022. Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Payments have come a long way from Chip and PIN to contactless and beyond.

Here are four creative uses of technology in the payment world.

#1. Going contactless 

Across the world, the use of contactless payments is on the rise.

In December 2021, Visa conducted a survey that shows a global shift by consumers and merchants to contactless digital payments. One in four consumers worldwide expect to switch to making cashless payments only within the next two years, according to this new Visa Global Back to Business Study. The survey found that 16% of consumers had already switched to digital payments, while just over 70% regarded accepting new payment methods as fundamental to business growth.

Likewise, an AMEX survey also discovered a significant shift in U.S. consumer attitudes about technology. People using contactless in stores increased by 11% in April 2020 compared to August 2019.

This growth is not surprising due to the variety of benefits contactless transactions provide.

More so than ever before, consumers are focused on reducing physical contact at the point of sale (POS) for health and safety purposes, and touchless payments allow them to buy goods without having to enter their PIN on a card reader physically.

Passengers using Terminal 4 at New York's JFK International Airport can now purchase food and drink from a contactless convenience store without needing a checkout. The Camden Food Express Store is located at Gate B 42 and enables customers to enter by tapping their credit card, selecting their items and having their purchase charged to their credit card.

#2. Mobile 

Starbucks jumped on the mobile payment bandwagon early, building its barcode-based app to let customers pay with their phones back in 2011.

The latest update enables users to "shake to pay," whereby customers open the app and shake their phone to bring up their favourite card to make the purchase.

They can also digitally tip baristas through a prompt that will appear up to two hours after a visit. Customers can order and pay for drinks in specific locations before collecting them in-store.

In the U.S., more than a quarter of all transactions at Starbucks stores in the U.S. are now paid for with a smartphone, an earnings document revealed in April 2021.

#3. Facial recognition

Fast food outlets have been busy replacing their human cashiers with self-service kiosks in recent years.

The next logical step could be letting people order with a simple face scan.

In California, the burger chain CaliBurger is already testing such a set-up.

At its Pasadena outlet, customers can use its kiosks to order, pay, and log into the chain's loyalty/rewards program. "Our goal is to replace credit card swipes with face-based payments," said the firm's CEO, John Miller.

Biometric payments are already flourishing in China. Motivated by positive customer feedback, hundreds of nationwide restaurants have rolled out digital technologies to improve customer experiences, growth, and operational efficiency.

4. Voice command

Now live at more than 11,500 Exxon and Mobil gas stations across the U.S., customers can use Amazon's new feature to pay for gas at the pump while remaining in their cars.

Customers say, "Alexa, pay for gas," to begin the payment process, and Alexa then confirms the station location pump number and activates the pump.  

The feature works across Alexa-enabled devices, like Echo Auto, in Alexa-enabled vehicles and even through the Alexa app for iOS and Android.

Transactions are processed through Amazon Pay, which uses the same payment information stored in the customer's Amazon account.  

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