Science fiction films and television shows are packed with mouthwatering examples of futuristic technology. Warp speed travel on the USS Enterprise, Stormtroopers riding speeder bikes on the planet Endor, psychic crime prevention systems employed by PreCrime, and intelligent androids aboard the USCSS Prometheus, just to name a few.
But most of these same films also come up short when revealing the payment technology of the future. Outside of throwaway lines about credits or using rare commodities as barter, much of mainstream Sci-Fi ignores the limitless possibilities for how and why we pay for things in the future.
Of course, some of what seems like futuristic technology is already coming to pass. We can now wave a smartwatch to pay for a Coca-Cola from a vending machine or for groceries in a checkout line. Apps allow us to split a restaurant bill on the spot. Vacation resorts and cruises provide a wearable that functions as an all-in-one room key, credit card and more.
But these are device or localized payment innovations. What remains difficult today is paying in entirely new and novel ways. Paying over distance, specifically across borders and currencies, is also challenging because existing payment infrastructure is hopelessly antiquated, making long-distance payment applications slow, expensive and cumbersome.
Fortunately, the emerging Internet of Value is beginning to radically improve our payments experience. The financial counterpart to the Internet of Information, the Internet of Value is the ability for value to be exchanged as easily as information. Just as speed and access to information on the Web have expanded knowledge, so will an Internet of Value bring down the cost of financial services, speed up money transfer, and deliver access to the furthest reaches of the world. This Internet of Value will effectively democratize finance.
A Day in the Life
So beyond smartwatches and apps, what functional changes might the Internet of Value bring in the near future? Micropayments and international payments to name a few. Consider what the Internet of Value might facilitate in just one ordinary morning.
6:30 am – The alarm on your phone goes off using a custom made song. As you hear “Wake Up Sleepy Head,” a song commissioned on a lark with friends from a Swedish heavy metal band, you realize you forgot to deactivate it. A doubly painful lapse because your phone is simultaneously cataloguing the play and sending a micropayment in Swiss Francs directly to the band’s PayPal account.
7:25 am – Showered and changed, you hustle down the hallway late with no time to make a real breakfast. Grabbing the last protein bar from the cupboard, the shelf sensor for your Pantry App notes an empty space and pings your smartwatch asking if you’d like more. With a mouthful of bar, it’s easier to press confirm than reply by voice. The Pantry App sends payment in colones and a reorder notification directly to the Costa Rican company that supplies your bars. They in turn queue up a delivery by Amazon drone for after work. Based on your presets, Amazon automatically debits your delivery fee in USD.
7:55 am – On the way to airport in your auto-piloted Lyft, you tap “passing priority” on your account. The car slides into the passing lane and begins issuing micropayment offers to the cars ahead of you, asking if they’ll move out of the way. Fortunately, everyone’s in a generous mood and gladly accepts your payment so you can reach the airport on time.
8:15 am – Satisfied you’ll arrive for your flight with time to spare, you begin planning for the trip ahead. You have all the necessary paperwork and tickets for your trek visiting production locations across Europe, but you realize you forgot to line up wifi coverage. No problem. You enable country-hopping on your cellular account so that it automatically locks you into country specific wifi accounts on all your devices. As you power on your iPad and laptops, they — along with your phone and watch — will automatically connect to local providers and pay them directly in their preferred currencies for the time used from your central account.
11:37 am – Over water now, you power on the screen in the seat in front of you to complete your customs entry paperwork. A few quick swipes pre-populates the forms, and you’re prompted to renew your Global Entry EU account to speed your passage through customs. The device asks for payment and you tap your U.S.-based corporate card to the screen. The provider in Brussels instantly confirms receipt of funds in Euros and approves your application renewal.
Not only does money move as fast as information in these examples, but the Internet of Value makes it possible to instantly fund orders and send payment across currencies. These same exchanges today could take weeks for fully settled funds to arrive.
On a macro-economic level, the Internet of Value could also help drive down the cost of goods and transactions because it enables more liquidity. In today’s country-specific systems, companies and banks must tie up large sums of money in local currencies for countries in which they do business in order to facilitate transactions. An Internet of Value that eliminates the need for these accounts, suddenly frees up large sums of cash that can be more effectively put to use in the economy.
While these examples might not rise to the level of science fiction story material on their own, they are use cases for how the Internet of Value could fundamentally improve our daily lives and dramatically remake the global economy.
Of course, it will take a village to make these possibilities a reality. No one company can build the Internet of Value on its own. Just like the growth of the early web, it will require collaborations and partnerships between many entities. We’re committed to doing our part, and excited to work with device makers, financial institutions and more to realize the Internet of Value.
By working together, we can make transactions easier, faster and cheaper, opening up an entirely new universe of possibilities. And by embedding these applications within automobile, wearable and other technology innovations, the Internet of Value might just make a cameo in the next Ridley Scott feature.