The Future of Credit Cards

The future of the credit card is the cell phone! It probably won’t be Google Wallet exactly, but Google Wallet is a step along the way to the all-purpose cell phone.

It’s because so many financial transactions have moved online, while the credit card is still stubbornly physical. Each and every time you make a computer Web financial transaction, you’ve got to type in your name, and credit card number, and expiry date, and security code. That’s a lot of typing.

Of course, if you do a lot of business with the same places and you trust them with your credit card information, you’ve probably set it up so they automatically remember all those numbers. You’re already halfway to doing all your financial transactions with those places using only your cell phone.

The problem with this direction is that it’s not safe to trust just anyone. There have to be a lot of safeguards and firewalls in place before you’ll be okay with just bumping cell phones to transfer money. Paypal’s Android app’s another step along the way, but it still limits platforms and not everyone’s completely happy with Paypal’s fees and high cost of currency exchange either.

A different issue’s also starting to show up. Who “prints” the money? The central bank or government treasury prints physical bills, and keeps the economy from spiraling into inflation by not printing too many of them. But no one “prints” the dollar units online. There’s pretty much an infinite supply of them. If money’s not backed up at all, even by printed bills, what does that do to monetary theory? Is the system going to end up with something like BitCoin, or is BitCoin going to collapse under the weight of its own algorithms?

Plus there’s the whole counterfeiting issue. Canada only just got new $100 and $50 bills! But if the cell phone revolution continues like this, what’s the point?

However, technology usually develops along more than a single path before one of those paths dies out. Before BluRay, there was BluRay and HDTV. Before DVDs, there were DVDs and video discs. Before VHS, there was VHS and Beta. And before the all-purpose cell phone, there will be parallel development of plastic cards. In fact, they’re already here.

Card 2.0

The Hidden Card 2.0 does what chip and PIN technology tries to do, and does it better. Instead of requiring a PIN to “sign” for a purchase, the Hidden Card 2.0 needs a PIN to access the number in the first place. Without that PIN, your card information never even reaches the magnetic stripe!

When you enter your PIN, the full card number becomes visible and is also loaded onto the magnetic strip. You can then use it for purchases normally. After a short period of time, the card turns off automatically, which erases both the visible and magnetic strip numbers. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s more secure than anything else out there.

The MultiAccount Card 2.0 lets you access 2 separate accounts, each with a different account number, from the same card. All you have to do is choose the ON button next to the account you want. At that point, the account information you want is loaded onto the magnetic strip, to be erased when you are done.

The Redemption Card 2.0 does the same thing as the MultiAccount Card 2.0, but only for loyalty points and credit. Each time you swipe, you can choose whether to pay for your purchase by points or credit at the point of sale by pressing a single button.

All Card 2.0s can be swiped at any standard magnetic stripe reader, just like a normal credit or debit card. No special equipment is needed.