I’ve been trialling a watch that could replace your wallet. The device contains a small slot for what looks like a SIM card from a mobile phone. This is in fact a payment card that communicates with the till when then watch is held to a reader, now being installed in shops around the UK. There’s no PIN number, but there’s a limit on transaction size and the account has to be topped in advance, so that you can’t be cleaned out if the watch is stolen.
This is, in short, a replacement for cash. It is designed for the many small purchases that we make throughout the day: newspaper, chocolate bar, sandwich, train ticket, coffee etc. And for me it is a lot easier.
The fact that it is in a watch is something of a distraction, albeit that it is a very sensible place to put a wireless payment card. The point is that both Visa and MasterCard are piling money into these ‘contactless’ technologies, with merchants rapidly beginning to fit out their stores with NFC readers that will enable people to pay with a wave of the hand, whatever medium the payment chip may be held in.
Darryl Morris on Radio Manchester joked about my prediction that we will see the end of cash within our lifetimes: I think that is a very safe bet. It will hang around for certain uses but in five years time I would be amazed if I am still carrying coins in my pocket on a regular basis.