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Last updated: November 2020.  Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

From Chip and PIN to contactless and beyond, payments have come a long way.

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. It was reported in March 2020 that the contactless payments growth rate had doubled in Nordic countries during the first four months of 2020.

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

This growth is not particularly 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 physically enter their PIN on a card reader.

#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 favorite card to make the purchase.

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

In the US, almost a quarter of all transactions at Starbucks stores in the US are mobile orders through the company’s app, an earnings document revealed in October 2020.

#3. Facial recognition

In recent years, fast food outlets have been busy replacing their human cashiers with self-service kiosks.

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 restaurants across the country 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 themselves are processed through Amazon Pay, which uses the same payment information stored in the customer’s Amazon account.  

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