FinTech, cash-free transactions, digital currencies, smartphone wallets and similar innovation won’t be a part of the future because they are already part the present. Have you heard about things like Apple Pay or Alipay?
The technology is already there. It’s mature, stable and easy to use on consumer and on corporate levels. So what keeps us from using it? Simply the missing cultural adoption stops things from becoming an actual thing. Digital paying is not something that will be iteratively introduced in the future in a couple of shops for teens. It’s already here! Or should I say, it’s elsewhere.
I have recently been traveling in China and was most surprised about one aspect in digital wallets and smart paying. Alipay, the Alibaba digital payment service, is there and it’s everywhere. I knew about it being a service but I never dared to even dream how quickly it reached full cultural acceptance. They have more than 400 million users only in China. PayPal has not yet reached 200 million users even globally.
Whether you’re paying a luxury article in a major shopping district or a food vendor with a booth on the street, OF COURSE, they are doing Alipay. You use your smartphone with the Alibaba app for paying and it takes only a second to process. You’re done. No stress. Full ability to report on what you paid money for at any given time.
Some countries, such as Denmark, are also pioneering in becoming cashless by enabling easy digital payment options. I am aware of that and I look forward to that but I just never really witnessed and felt that actually all of this is already here and happening.
It’s also not just Millennials and geeks doing that. In the US, Apple Pay might have a foot in the door when it comes to retail and some other industries but they are far behind, based on what I experienced. In China it was simply the normal thing to do. Certainly, there might be areas even there that have not yet felt the digital disruption that much and they can continue to use money like they always did but the interesting thing remains: Digital paying has arrived.
The only thing missing now is a full cultural acceptance and a good adoption of such digital services. Trust is an issue here. In Denmark the solution has been provided by the government. That certainly boosted the level of trust by the users. How would Apple Pay or PayPal establish something like that? I can feel they are probing into user behavior and doing a pilot here and there but for some reason they don’t make the jump into this new age.
Why are they not daring this step? They should offer businesses to use their billing solution and offer an accounting service right on top of that. Would it make sense to lure them in by giving the technology for free? Make digital payments attractive by introducing discounts for digital payers. If the companies are not daring enough, perhaps governments will enforce these next steps. It doesn’t have to be bitcoin or blockchain just a simple transaction of a standard currency from your account to someone else’s account in a simple digital process that makes it fun to pay for goods.
So why aren’t we already using digital payments as the one and only means to transfer money? Because humans love their money. They love the coins and the bills and their wallets. They don’t easily trust “new things” and they hate to change their ways. I’m hoping to pay my things with my smartphone very soon. If you’re not advancing – you’re retreating. From this day on, I consider physical currency as legacy. I don’t care who will make the race but I want this race to happen now.
YouTube: What is Alipay?
Photo credit: Andreas Kontokanis / Jörg Huber / Bodey Marcoccia