Pointing at a smartphone and transferring money: is it the future of payments? | NOW

Point your smartphone at someone and transfer money to them that way. It sounds futuristic, but if it’s up to ING, it’s going to happen soon. It is thanks to a new wireless technology that the bank is testing together with the Eindhoven chip group NXP. Is this the future of payment? And what else can we expect?

No more exchanging data manually after a night at a bar or making a payment via a small bit, but point your phone at someone and pay like that. And it does not stop there. In the future, you could also see in your banking app who is walking around the area and at what distance. You can then choose who you want to transfer money to. The recipient receives a confirmation request, accepts it and then the payment is arranged.

“It is now still an experiment with a limited group of participants who have been invited and who have said yes to it,” ING said. The payment method uses ultra-broadband technology (UWB). It works with a chip that is already in smartwatches, among other things, says Berend Jan Beugel from the Dutch Payments Association. “UWB technology makes it even easier for people who do not know each other, but who are physically together, to pay each other even more. And that without having to manually exchange data, such as mobile phone number, name or IBAN.”

According to him, this development is a logical next step. “Technology has never stood still. In addition, contactless payment at checkout has proven to be a very convenient, efficient and secure payment method. It has contributed to a steady decline in payment card fraud despite a sharp increase in the number of contactless payments.”

But not all consumers are thrilled. Isabelle Buhre (32): “Personally, I prefer to pay in cash or by debit or credit card and only transfer money from my computer at home,” she says. “I do not download a banking app on my smartphone because I often use public Wi-Fi networks or bluetooth and do not want anyone to be able to access my banking information through such a network.”

Direct transfer

Beugel emphasizes that the new technology is not a replacement for current payment methods such as online banking. “When payment via UWB is generally offered as a full payment method, it will complement the existing payment options.”

He expects more innovations to follow. “For example, about ‘instant payments’: a transfer where the amount is transferred to the recipient’s account within seconds, regardless of which bank you are with.”

“New digital payment methods are never anonymous, and your behavior is monitored down to the square millimeter.”

Simon Lelieveldt, payment expert

Realize what actually adds what

Payment expert and business expert Simon Lelieveldt also expects more technological development. “We’re going to see all sorts of things, such as techniques that make it easier to pay directly with cryptocurrency.” However, he wonders if this development is really necessary. “The temptation is great to go along with the hype and convenience. But it’s good to realize what kind of world is being created by using these means of payment or gadgets.”

Lelieveldt expresses his concerns about the security of personal data. “Paying ever faster and ‘simpler’ provides a lot of convenience, but also brings with it new concerns,” he emphasizes. “New digital payment methods, including this one, are never anonymous and your behavior is monitored down to the square millimeter. If not in the app, then in the underlying banking system.”

He also mentions the importance of cash. “We must recognize that not everyone can participate in the digital world. Payment must also remain available to those people. Cash is indispensable and must remain an open choice for people to pay with.”

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