Yet, Americans love shopping more than ever before.
How could retail spending be on the rise when all of these trusted payment systems are slowly getting phased out?
The answer is simple: Wearable payment technology.
The basic concept is nothing new. If you've ever watched sci-fi movies, you've already seen futuristic societies in which protagonists use contact lenses, chip implants or fingerprint scanners to pay for products and services using "credits."
Although none of these technologies have become mainstream yet, we’re pretty close. There now exist a number of wearable payment solutions that are slowly but surely displacing traditional standbys like checks, cash and plastic.
The most conspicuous example of wearable payment technology is the Apple Watch. Nearly 1,000,000 people bought the watch before it was even officially released. Apple iPhone 6 sales are considerably higher. The company sold more than 66 million units during the 2014 holiday season. Whether mobile devices count as "wearable" technology is a matter of debate. Though given how much Apple fans rely on their phones, one could make a compelling argument.
However, Apple’s product line only represents the tip of the iceberg. There are many other wearable payment solutions that let you upload credit card data before going on shopping excursions.
Below are some of the newest and most exciting wearable payment technologies out there:
1. Google Glass
Google probably never meant for its glasses to be a huge hit. The company just wanted to show what is possible — and encourage other wearable technology manufacturers to follow suit. The search behemoth no longer sells Google Glass, but the experiment has provided plenty of inspiration for future designers.
2. NFC Rings
There now exist a number of competing rings that use near field communication (NFC) for contactless payments. Stylish, unobtrusive and convenient — these fashion accessories could be the next big thing in wearable payments.
3. Disney MagicBands
Some wearable payment solutions stay with the user — no matter where he/she goes, but Disney has adopted an interesting approach. When visiting one of the company’s many attractions, you can use MagicBands throughout the duration of your stay and gain instant access to rides, restaurants and even your hotel room. When vacation time is over, simply remove the wristband and collect any remaining credits.
4. Clip-On NFCs
Similar to MagicBands, this payment solution isn't something that you wear permanently. Simply clip on the device — like you would with a campaign pin — and shop wherever contactless payments are available. These removable NFC options sell for as little as $9.99. Sometimes you’ll need to sync the device with a smartphone to actually buy anything.
5. Printed QR Codes
You’ve probably already seen Quick Response (QR) codes on stickers or brochures. With the right scanner, you can initiate payments in a matter of seconds.
It’s now possible to print these codes on everything from t-shirts and lapel pins to signet rings and backpacks. You can even get QR code tattoos — although there may be certain risks involved (both physical and financial).
What's Next in Wearable Payment Technology?
It's hard to say. One year ago, the Apple Watch didn't even exist — now, it is the company’s most . Other product launches probably won’t be as successful.
One thing is certain: As the competition heats up, the line between fashion and payment technology will become more blurred.