Bill Gates once said:
“The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life.” When we look around today, the payment industry has gone through a tremendous amount of change, from paying in cash, using cheques, paying with a card and entering a pin to contactless payment and paying with consumer wearables products, such as smart rings or smart watches. And it has seamlessly integrated into our everyday lives.
In our previous blog post we discussed how the Point of Sale terminals have evolved throughout the years but what we didn’t mention – that change is happening on the other side of the payment as well. The cards, the certification process, user experience – all that evolves and advances at a fast speed and yet again – we need to keep up!
Where did it all begin?
In 1950 a first ever payment card saw the light of day – and how it often happens with great inventions – it happened by accident. A US businessman forgot his wallet and couldn’t cover his bill in a New York restaurant and there you go – Diner’s Club International charge card has emerged from his embarrassment. And today, according to Statista.com roughly 450 billion purchase transactions in 2019 were made globally using different payment cards. Some 70+ years later we cannot imagine our lives without a plastic card. Or can we?
Payment cards have also undergone quite some modifications, from a cardboard card in 1950s to a first ever plastic magnetic strip card in 1970s to a chip card, and finally to an NFC “contactless” card in 2005. You’d think – is there any more room to innovate? And the answer is – yes.
Over the past years, payment cards have evolved into small form factors – such as passive wearable devices – using passive load modulation. They have also digitalized into battery powered consumer devices using active load modulation, allowing to reduce the antenna size while improving user experience. That’s why we get to enjoy paying with our smart phones, fitness trackers or smart watches.